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817 S649do 60-06989 $2*95 
Smith,, Harry Allen, 1907- 
Don't get perconel with a 

chicken. Boston, Little, 
Brown [1959] : 



3 114801055 2602 

Books ly H. Allen Smith 








Selected by H. Allen Smith 


With Ira L. Smith 






Boston Little, Brown and Company * Toronto 


* te 



A portion of the material in this book appeared originally in Good 

The items from The New Yorker on pages 14, 15 and 16, 
copyright 1956, 1957, 1 9$ The New Yorker Magazine, Inc. 

"Trouble" from ROARING GUNS by David Statler, copyright, , 
1938, by Simon and Schuster, Inc. 

Excerpt from THE YOUNG VISITERS by Daisy Ashford, Copyright 
1919 by George H. Doran Co., reprinted by permission of Doubleday 
& Co., Inc. Canadian distribution by permission of Chatto and 

Excerpt from MEXICAN JUMPING BEAN by Pepe Romero, pub- 
lished by G. P. Putnam's Sons, reprinted by permission of the author. 
Copyright 1953 by Pepe Romero. 

Excerpt from TACTICAL EXERCISE by Evelyn Waugh, reprinted by 
permission of Little, Brown and Company. Copyright 1954, by 
Evelyn Waugh. 

Published simultaneously in Canada 
ly Little, Brown & Company (Canada) Limited 



I\ FEW YEARS AGO the American newspapers made a 
considerable fuss over an eight-year-old French girl 
named Minou Drouet, a writer of poetry. She was ad- 
mitted to membership in the French Society of Au- 
thors, Composers and Music Publishers on the strength 
of a poem which she put together in thirty minutes. 

When this child's writings were first called to the 
attention of the Society's officers, they grew cagey and 
suspicious, because the French people have sharp eyes 
for the rogue, the fraud, and, even worse, the ghost- 
writer. Minou had written., for example, "Little girls' 
bottoms are really a wonderful gift from heaven for 
calming the nerves of mothers. I know perfectly well 
that's what they were invented f or, because hands have 
hollows and bottoms have humps/' 

The Society simply refused to believe that a girl of 
eight would ever sit down and compose such a salute 
to bottoms. So Minou was challenged; and then, under 
supervision, she was put to work on a poem. If it 

[ 3 ] 

turned out to be good, she would gain membership in 
the Society. If bad, she would be exposed. The poem 
she wrote was quite literary, being concerned with feel- 
ings of heaviness and tufts of blood-colored grass and 
a description of herself walking on her head. It was a 
trifle transcendental, difficult to understand, perhaps 
even existentialist. My own feeling, when I read it, was 
that Minou actually had walked on her head, and hurt 

I don't mean to be chauvinistic, but I'm prepared to 
argue that here in the United States we have whole 
legions of little children who can write rings around 
Minou Drouet. Our own children, when they take 
lead pencil in hand, are seldom abstruse. They hit hard 
and their meaning is usually clear. Mark Twain once 
said that the most useful and interesting letters are 
from children seven or eight years old, for "they tell all 
they know, and then stop/' And Oliver Wendell 
Holmes wrote: "Pretty much all the honest truth- 
telling there is in the world is done by children/' Both 
men, I feel sure, were thinking about children in their 
own land. 

Truth-telling and complete candor and awful sin- 
cerity are to be found in both the talk and the scrib- 
blings of our small fry. A teacher asked a ten-year-old 
to spell the word "straight/' The child spelled it cor- 

[ 4 ] 

rectly and then the teacher said, "Now, what does it 
mean?" And the child answered, "Without ginger 

There is also the story of a small boy who was a din- 
ner guest at the home of a girl friend. The two young- 
sters bickered over who would say grace, and finally the 
girl's mother suggested that they both do the job. So 
the little boy started off, "In the name of the Father, 
and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen." And 
the girl, her head bowed, added with great reverence, 
". . . And to the republic for which it stands." 

During the last few years I have been casually collect- 
ing the literary works of children and I have noticed 
that while we have our share of juvenile poets, our kids 
seem to excel in the production of prose, whether it be 
the formal essay written in school, the letter from sum- 
mer camp or the note left on the kitchen table for 
Mom. And I have always been impressed by the rugged 
individuality of each author, especially in the matter of 
spelling. My own daughter was halfway through col- 
lege before I succeeded in breaking her of the habit of 
writing the abbreviation of et cetera as "ect." I have 
learned that it is a common error among the scribbling 
kids. And there are others. They write "are" when they 
mean "our," as in the case of Mona Espy's perceptive 
essay on her family's pets. They write "threw" instead 

[ 5 1 

of "through" and "since" instead of "sense/' A sur- 
prising number of them refer to the condition of being 
an adult as "adultery" or "adultry." They have trouble, 
for some strange reason, with the spelling of "behav- 
ior/' as well as "knock/' and none of them ever agrees 
with Webster on the word "business." 

I have at hand an essay which illustrates how origi- 
nality can be practiced with both "knock" and "busi- 
ness." It is a creative work with strong moralistic over- 
tones, written by a nine-year-old boy named Mike 
Peters of Reidsville, North Carolina. It was sent to 
me by Mike's teacher, Miss Sue Moore, and follows: 

Once upon a time there lived a man. And he had a 
big nose. He was always stiking it into other peoples 
binsites. One time he stuck his nose in to a gints bin- 
sites, the gint said if he did not get out of his land he 
would knong the big nose of of his face. And he would 
have a little nose. One day the man went back to the 
gints castel the gint nocket his nose so little that you 
gould not see it. So that teaches you a lassen not to 
stick your nose into other peples binses. 
the END 

It is entirely possible that there are a few mistakes 
in spelling in the above essay; if so, Mike Peters need 
not feel embarrassed about it. At about the same time 

[ 6 ] 

he was writing it, a survey was being conducted at Ohio 
State University. Two doctors combed through a pile 
of reports handed in by university students, and dis- 
covered that many of the undergraduates are atrocious 
spellers. The report made by the doctors contained 
some of the actual misspellings of the students, and 
included these paragraphs: 

Students have reported in their medical histories such 
childhood illnesses as measels, bronicle nomonia, hoop- 
ing cough, rumatic feavor and diptherie. During their 
adolescence many are afflicted with asma, accute apen- 
disidus, heart mummers due to rhuemantic fever, stum- 
mach truble and toncilitas. 

As a hobby some list swiming and boiling, some 
build modle airplanse, while others are interested in 
antigue cars and saling boats. One just enjoys listening 
to musik. 

Many students in describing their present health 
will indicate it is exselent, some describe it as vary good 
and others simply state that they are in good phiscul 
and mentle condition. 

The results of earlier researches into children's writ- 
ings were published in Good Housekeeping as well as 
in a book which had a wide circulation. Consequently, 
people all over the country and, indeed, in foreign 
lands have been sending me additional examples. 

[ 7 1 

Mrs. Thomas Lawton of Orlando, Florida, who would 
seem to be a teacher, forwarded a remarkable essay by 
a girl who signed her paper "Sally/' It follows: 


1. When you don't feel well you hump your back. 

2. When you hump your back your intestins will be 
pushed together in others words squished. 

If that's all there is to health, I intend to be mighty 
healthy from now on; at my age I have no difficulty 
at all humping my back. In fact, quite frequently it 
humps itself. 

During moments of giddiness I sometimes think 
that the writing of history should be taken out of the 
hands of adult historians and turned over to the very 
young. An Episcopal vicar in Nevada tells me that 
when he was a teacher of ancient history in Providence, 
Rhode Island, he gave his class of youngsters an as- 
signment to write on "The Roman Baths/' One of the 
boys concluded his essay with: 

Sometimes the women would bath in milk and the 
men would hang around the baths for days. 

And the whole history of the world was summed up 
in a few lines by a six-year-old pupil on Long Island, 

[ 8 ] 

His definitive work, sent me by his teacher, Mrs. Ellen 
Tunkel, follows: 

First there was just this Adam and Eve and they had 
only one state. Then this Columbus sailed in his three 
ships and found more states. Then Davy Crocket caine 
along and took over. 

Mathematical formulae, which are always a source 
of great confusion to me, never seem to bother the 
kids. One of them wrote: "Parallel lines are lines that 
never meet until they run together." Another: "A circle 
is a round straight line with a hole in the middle." And 
still a third: "Things which are equal to each other are 
equal to anything else." These quick and easy solutions 
remind me of a fairly famous essay on safety composed 
by a New York City boy. The teacher ordered the class 
to write on "Means of Saving Life." (I think she had 
in mind such matters as artificial respiration and tour- 
niquets and that sort of thing.) One boy turned in the 

Pins are a means of saving life by not swallowing 

Dickie Buttenheim is a compassionate and under- 
standing human being; at least he was all of that when 

[ 9 ] 

he attended the second grade at Halsted School in 
Yonkers, New York. During his summer vacation he 
had visited a farm and he had become interested in 
pigs, or at least in the plight of pigs. He returned to 
school full of indignation over the fact that so many 
people look upon pigs as being dirty. He believed pas- 
sionately that it was no fault of the pigs. He resolved 
to defend the good name of swine and he wrote an 
essay on the subject All pigs should be grateful The 
essay follows exactly as it appeared in the pages of the 
school paper, the Halsted Herald: 

Dickie Buttenheirn Roat This Book 

Pigs can be clean if you want them to. Give them a 
chance. If you give them a clean pen and green grass 
and spray them off each day they will be clean. 

I saw some pigs at a farm. They were dirty. The men 
were feding them. They threw the mush into the troth 
and the fnush sloped all over the ground. 

And the next day the ground was muddy. Pigs would 
not be happy if they could not roll in the mud. 

Joust make ann electric wire fenc. Then jost have a 
gate with electric wire. Then have a pasage way with 
electric wire down to the mud pile. Then when they 
come back from the mud pile get them in line up the 
pasage way. Then spray them one by one. Then when 
one of the pigs is sprayed, open the gate and let him go 
into the pen. 

Don't feed pigs mush. Feed them corn. One little 


baby pig at the farm, fell in the mush. But if you feed 
them corn they will not fell in. 

They have another troth for water. Make the water 
clean. That is a good way to get them fat. The end. 

(By the time I got this pig essay into print, Dickie's 
sister, Judy, had become seven years old Dickie's age 
when he composed it. She read it and snorted with sis- 
terly indignation, declaring to her mother that Dickie 
had misspelled the word "roat." Her mother suggested 
that Judy correct it, and she did, with a flourish, mak- 
ing it "roate.") 

The Buttenheims appear to be a literary family. 
More recently Dickie's sister Debbie, age ten, was 
given a punishment. When her parents returned home 
they found that Debbie had been misbehaving during 
their absence. She was ordered to go to her room and 
write a composition on "Responsibility/ 7 The result 


Responsibility means that you are able to conduct 
yourself in an orderly maner without someone there 
ready to hit you on the head with a club. And you are 
trusted to be alone without getting in treble, and if 
you do you will tell the truth. 

There is something about the sudden displacement 
of a child from home to summer camp that brings out 

remarkable literary talent. Mrs. Ruth M. Dirgo of 
Omaha has preserved the following letter: 

Dear Mother: Tonight the moon is shining. The 
wind is not blowing but when it does you can hear 

it in the trees. Mr. S said to write a letter and 

make it interesting and you are to write back that it is. 
Your son, Earl. 

A guest at Grossinger's in the Catskills received the 
following message from her offspring at camp: 

Dear Mommy: 

Please bring some food when you come to visit me. 
All we get here is breakfast, dinner and supper. 

Wendell Margrave has seen a postal card sent by a 
twelve-year-old girl from camp, which said: 

Dear mom: 3 of the girls in my tent have the dire 

Rosalind Russell's son once sent his famous mother 
a picture of himself holding an eight-foot python. The 
picture was inscribed: 

Dear Mom, This is my favorite snake. Love. 


The R. W. Vespermans of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 
have long cherished a letter written home by their son 
when he was twelve. It went: 

[ 3 

Dear Dad, 

Please write often even if it is only a couple of dol- 
lars. Love. 


Ed Schultz of Schenectady, New York, informs me 
that when his brother was a child he wrote home from 

Dear Mom, Vacation is all most over. See you soon, 
your love child, 


A prominent magazine editor in New York has for- 
warded a camp letter written by his daughter when she 
was eight. It is a most provocative document, and a 
little tragic: 

I passed the swimming test It was easy I haven't gone 
to the bathroom for two days and I can't get the 
Kondremul bottle open Please write me to tell me what 
to do Love Susie. 

Mrs. Kenneth B. Clarke of Brooklyn tells me that 
when her son went away to camp, at the age of eight, 
he was given a stack of postcards, already stamped and 
addressed, and told to write home at least once a week. 

His first card read: 
Today I rode Somky the hores. 

The Clarkes made inquiry of the camp counselors, 
and found out what they had suspected: that their boy 

was riding a horse named Smokey. For the duration of 
his stay at camp all his messages home had to do with 
Somky the hores. Somky the hores ran away, or Somky 
the hores had a sicknes, or Somky the hores jumped 
over some bushs. When at last the Clarkes drove to 
the camp to fetch their boy home, he insisted upon 
introducing them to his favorite mount. He took them 
to the stable where they found, above the animal's 
stall, a sign clearly identifying him as "Somky the 
Hores/' It had been placed there by the counselors. 

The New Yorker seems to have reduced its acreage 
of camp letters during the last couple of years, but 
those that do appear in its pages are first rate. Here is 
one from a nine-year-old girl to her parents: 

Everybody in our cabin is homesick including a girl 
whose father and mother work here. And they are 
homesick too. 

One from a twelve-year-old, soon after his arrival for 
his first experience in summer camp: 

Dear Mother: 

You gave me no money because the camp said we 
didn't need money. But we do need money. I am happy 


P. S. Could you send me a deck of cards? 

The New Yorker, however, has not neglected the 
junior authors and letter writers. The following five 
items are from the magazine. 

A nine-year-old boy who accompanied his class to 
a farm in the Berkshires for a week wrote home: 

I'm safe at Otis. We started to build a tomb. I'll ex- 
plain later. Good-bye. 

Your loving son, 


A three-and-a-half-year-old boy of Washington, 
Connecticut, dictated the following story: 

Once there was a little boy and he didn't like his 
mother; he hated his mother, because she was old and 
ugly. Two witches came and chopped his mother up 
in pieces and killed her, and threw her in the river. The 
little boy's father came and pulled her out, and sud- 
denly she was young and beautiful, and the little boy 
still didn't like her. 

A small girl in Alexandria, Virginia, whose mother 
had gone to a dinner party, left the following note for 
her on the hall table: 

Dear Mother: 

I would like you to explain about the universe when 
you have more time to. 


In a household where psychology was freely dis- 
cussed, an eleven-year-old girl and her younger brother 
were packed off to bed for making too much noise. 
Just before retiring the daughter handed her mother 
this holograph: 

Dear Mother: 

I think it's about time you made an apology to rne 
and Earl. Imagine putting us in bed at 8:45! Being 
mean will get you no where, being mean to others 
when you're mean at yourself is noway to solve a 
problem. I'd like to help you if you'd only let me. 

A procedure for the observance of Halloween was 
set down in the following document^ written by a nine- 
year-old girl for the instruction of her friend: 


1. Hide behind big green sofa. 

2. As I go like this with my horn (do da) you start 
in with yours like this (whooo) . Make it ghostly. 

3. When I give a long last blow ending like this 
(whooo do do) we start to crawl out. As they enter the 
door we prance upon them. 

4. I will show you how to prance upon them before 


A boy in a Des Moines school is the author of a re- 
markable essay which, in three brief lines, contains a 
superb declaration of love, a brilliant demonstration 
of logic, and a lesson in diplomacy. The essay was sent 
to me by Anne Hollenbeck, who teaches in Des 
Moines, and follows: 

My favorite teacher is Miss Moore. Miss Moore is 
like a short haired dog. A dog is smart. A dog is mans 
best friend. I am a man. 

In Chappaqua, New York, the editor of the weekly 
Sun recently sent a nine-year-old girl to the town police 
station with instructions to examine the blotter and 
write out all the mighty occurrences of the last few 
days. The result, which I consider to be a masterpiece 
of contemporary journalism, follows: 

First Mrs. Riesenkonig said she had a red setter 
puppy, and it turned out to belong to Mrs. Amadon. 
Mrs. Metcalf lost her brindle beagle, it was a female, and 
it was brown and white with black spots, she lost it the 
same day. And Mrs. Chaikin found a beagle hound and 
it belonged to Mrs. Riesenkonig, but it was a different 
Mrs. Riesenkonig. Peter Ebel had a black scotch ter- 
rier for a few days and it didn't belong to him and Mrs. 
Meyer lost a Kerry blue thats a dog too and they found 
it at Mrs. Shannahans and Mrs. Stern lost a police dog, 

a small female one she said it was, and all this hap- 
pened in two days. The next day Mrs. Rice heard an 
awful sound that sounded like a dog crying hard and 
they found it was a dog and it was stuck in a barb wire 
fence but a boy named Woodward unstuck it so it 
didnt cry any more I guess. That was the same day Mrs. 
Joy found a raccoon on her porch, and they told Mr. 
See about it because he lost one last week. That is all 
for that day. Mrs. Campbell had a gray angora cat that 
went out at night and didnt come back but she hopes 
she will find it I guess. The last thing that happened 
was Mr. Cunningham lost his red setter, and so did Mr. 
Amadon, that's funny, didnt we have him before. 

Grace Kelly, now a princess, had literary ambitions 
when she was a child. It is recorded that at the age of 
fourteen she composed the following profound quat- 

I hate to see the sun go down 
And squeeze itself into the ground, 
Since some warm night it might get stuck 
And in the morning not get up. 

Mrs. A. T. Finney of Cassville, Wisconsin, tells me 
of the time her fifth-graders were put to work writing 
an original drama. They chose their own theme: The 

Wild West Mrs. Finney remembers best that part of 
the script which read: 

The villain is caught by the poss. He is dragged be- 
fore the judge. 

"He was caught with the goods. Caught with the 
brandin' iron in his hand, brandin' stolen calves. Lets 
string him up/' 

"No said the judge, Justice prevails here. Give him 
the electric chair for life." 

Mrs. Finney also recalls the case of the little girl who 
was told, years ago, to write on "A Vacation Adven- 
ture/ 7 Her narrative was concerned with a harrowing 
family expedition in a buggy, during which a cloud- 
burst sent an avalanche of water and rocks across the 
roadway. The little girl's uncle was driving and brought 
the family through safely by his expert handling of the 
horses. Nevertheless, the child's account of the adven- 
ture ended with: 

Its a good thing my uncle wasnt drunk that day too 
or we would all have been drownd. 

Mrs. Calvin A. Hyde of Durango, Colorado, was 
working in the kitchen one day recently when her four- 
year-old son, Robby, came in and announced that he 

[ 19 ] 

had a book to write. "You write it down and I'll tell 
it," he said; she did, and here it is: 

Once upon a time there was God up in Heaven. And 
God was very busy making a man. When the man was 
all made he said to God, "God, you're a sweet person 
and I like you. So when I get down to earth Fm going 
to be a good boy and send you back some bubble gum/' 

When Lila La Munyon was a little girl, she often 
heard arguments within the family circle over one 
member who seemed to be addicted to gambling. For 
some reason, Lila decided that poetry might effect a 
cure. She composed the following: 

You shouldent play porker 

And shouldent gamble 
Or youll be like 

Two eggs in a sacarrnble. 

Lila tells me that she placed the poem on the of- 
fending party's bed, but that it failed to reform him. 
It has, nevertheless, furnished much laughter in the 
family down through the years. 

A schoolteacher in St. Louis once told her sixth- 
grade youngsters to write "about something you have 

in your homes/ 7 She has saved one entry, the work of 
a small boy whose name, of course, she refuses to 
reveal. His essay: 


In the home there is dert. It is not good to be there. 
And all ways should be swep up. 

The late James Street's granddaughter, Rickey, be- 
gan to show literary talent at an early age. She wrote 
her own biography of the novelist as follows: 


My grandfather was important. He was famous His 

name was James Street. He wrote an interesting book 

called Good by my Lady. In the afternoon he gets his 

secratrie. In the evening he usually works on the book. 

Apparently the rigorous life of an author, as de- 
scribed in that biography, didn't impress Rickey too 
much, for she immediately decided to try her own 
hand at a novel. The result: 


Once upon a time a man who was a very important 
man asked his wife to make potatoes and vegetables so 
she did. She put in eggs and salt and other odd things, 
He had tea to drink. He had fruit for desert. He liked 
toast with butter on it so he got it. They had a very 

[ 21 ] 

good stove. He had a very lovely kitchen. His wife was 
a good cook. She liked rich food. It cost a little. 


Mrs. Penelope Jarrell Fitch has resurrected an item 
from her girlhood, a list of rules governing the organi- 
zation which she served as secretary. This is the way 
it goes: 


1 i ) You may not have over three hobbys. 

( 2 ) You must not talk out of turn. 

( 3 ) Do not play the victrola to much. 

(4) Do not play dolls during the meatin. 

( 5 ) Do not toch other peoples hobbys. 

Fledgling authors seem to be at their very best when 
they are writing about animals. We have, for example, 
the case of Bobby Humphreys, nine. Bobby didn't 
make the grade with the Oakland Tribune last year. 
His older sister had been writing stories and drawing 
pictures and having them published in the Tribune, 
and it may be that Bobby grew envious. At any rate he 
sat down and composed a story and was about to send 
it to the newspaper when his parents got hold of it. 

They decided to suppress it, but Bobby's grandmother 
has smuggled a copy of it to me and it is herewith pub- 

lioT-i/a/-J Prk-r fl-n= fire! 1 -1-imA* 

lished for the first time: 

Once upon a time there was two monkeys and they 
were very very sad because they wanted a baby monkey. 
Dr. Brow the moneky Dr. siad they could not have a 
baby. One day she began to get fat so she went on a 
diet, but she was still getting fater and fater so she went 
to see her Doctor. The Doctor said you are going to 
have a baby. She told her husband and heres what hap- 
pened, hugs and kisses, thats what happened. 

From a third-grade schoolroom in Joplin, Missouri, 
comes a manuscript that has elements of brilliance: 


The wollf kills sheep and small cows. They are re- 
lated to the dog but not leshley. They do not eat 
vegatables. There are no wollfs in So. America. They 
are gray. They go to gether and kill antelops. By biteing 
there necks. No wollfs in lerland. 

The teacher who sent me that remarkable disserta- 
tion told me that she was slightly confused by the word 
"leshley/' She asked the boy author what it meant. 
He looked at it a long time and then said: "It meant 
something good when I first wrote it but now I can't 

Fred Beck reports from California that Mrs. Har- 
old Richardson of Whittier came home from a shop- 
ping trip to find a note written by her eight-year-old 
son, Harold. It said: 

Dear Mom, 

When you were gone our cat came all a part in the 


Mrs. Richardson, to be sure, hurried out to the 
garidge to see about the cat that had come all a part. 
It was there all right with a new litter of kittens. 

A boy attending the Bret Harte school in Chicago 
was looking in the front part of an encyclopedia when 
he came upon a message from the editors, who said 
that if any reader had a question that was not answered 
in the encyclopedia, they would be happy to answer it 
by mail Well, that boy had a question for them and 
he wrote it out and sent it to them, as follows: 

What would the swithch man do if he had swithed 
trains on the same track opisite each other at full speed 
and the swith was jamed? 

I have no record of what the encyclopedia editors 
said in response. Probably swithched the subject. 

Mrs. John Downes of Chicago has sent me a his- 
torical work which some people, I'm sure, would like 
to see preserved under glass in the Library of Con- 
gress. The faded manuscript, done in pencil, was the 
work of Mrs. Downes's sister, Jean Anderson, and was 
written sixty-odd years ago when the author was eight 
years old. Here it is: 


I hate England because it is so proud. My dear 
America will not be betten by old England. I wish Eng- 
land was the littliest town in the world. 

America font for their country, and England did not 
no what they were fighting about. 

How I love America because it is so smart. 

I do not think the Englands would feel proud they 
ought to feel ashamed of their selfs. 

We will wip the Englands all to peases and I have no 
dought that the Americans will beet the Engel. 

How glad I am to be an American child. I do not 
care if we have not a king and queen, because I know 
all of us would rather be smart than have a queen and 


Soon after it was written, long years ago, this manu- 
script fell into the hands of Dr. Frank Otis Ballard 
of Hanover College, a friend of the author's family, 
and Dr. Ballard composed a lengthy critique. Among 
other things he wrote: 

Then, too, I love it for this that the reader is not 
left an instant in doubt of the real point of view or 
attitude of the author of the History. There is nothing 
veiled or ambiguous, nothing evasive or oblique about 
it. It is a powerful discharge of sentiment, emitting 
dazzling light and power almost stunning. 

Dr. Ballard found only one "error of fact/' and that 
in Paragraph 2, where it says "England did not no 
what they were fighting about." The college president 
comments that "all the world knew, including the 
King and Cornwallis, the parliament and the people, 
that the English knew they were fighting about eight 

Some jokes go back a long way. 

Two small Connecticut girls named Bunny and 
Hallie, next-door neighbors, are wild about horses. Re- 
cently Bunny went on a trip with her family, driving 
through the South, and wrote back to her friend: 

Dear Hallie: 

If I am not home feed my bird Friday & Sunday. I 
have a present for you. I almost saw 2 Arabian Horses 
at 2 plantations we visited. See you soon. Love, 


An account of a surgical operation which he saw on 
television was written by a ten-year-old boy, as a school 

r 26 i 

composition. It was picked up by Television Quarterly, 
and then republished by John Crosby. 
The boy wrote: 

About a week ago a little girl from Clevelon was 
operated on. She was five years old. The case was a 
very unusual one because the girl was born with a hole 
in her heart. Since the hole was just in between the left 
and right side, the blood ran into each other. So they 
had to operate. They made the operation by freezing 
the heart to a temperature of about 40 or 50 degrees. 
You see, by freezing the heart it slowed the sirculation 
of the heart and also slowed up the heart, so when they 
operated they had more time doing it. After they soed 
up the hole, they defrosted the girl and she was per- 
fectly fine. 

This little essay was published by the magazine to 
illustrate the fact that children do learn from television 
the boy's spelling and sentence structure may have 
been slightly off-center, but he had his facts straight. 

Here is another letter from camp which informs 
Mom and Dad that . . . 

We had a hike to Big Pond. A man came at us with 
a big pitch fork. It was scary. It rained all night. I 
lost my knapsack. A bee bit Joey. The head counselor 
gave him mud. 

A lady member of one of Charleston's oldest and 
most aristocratic families has sent me an item, along 
with orders that her name is not to be mentioned on 
pain of hoss-whupping, suh. It is the work of a seven- 
year-old boy, dates back fifty years, and has long been 
cherished in the aforementioned aristocratic family. 
This child got fed up with the eternal admonitions to 
be polite toward all females. So he sat down and 

Once there was a little girl and when ever a gentel- 
man came into the room she got up and gave him her 
char and every day she sent a box of candy to every 
gentelman she new. She was very bullite. 

Pepe Romero is the top English-language columnist 
in Mexico City. Some years ago Pepe made the ac- 
quaintance of an undersized Mexican boy named 
Henry, a peddler of lottery tickets. Henry turned out 
to be a lad of driving ambition, so Pepe got him a job 
as a page boy at the Hotel Reforma where the require- 
ment is that a page boy must be smaller than a jockey 
and cute. This Henry spent much of his spare time 
studying English, so one day Pepe asked the boy to 
write a guest column for publication in the News. The 
result follows: 

My name is Henry and working as page boy. I have 
a long time and very good practice on this so I think I 
will tell you, how a page boy has to give the sevice to a 
good or bad hotel. 

The first idea that I have of the page boy is: that he 
must know English, not the perfect English but he just 
have to know the necessary for having the best atten- 
tion to the tourist special in ladies, not forgeting men. 

When I start in hotels I was just 11 years old now 
I am 14 and there is the reason that I think I can tell 
you something about it, hoping that this will be in- 
teresting for you. 

I start in the Reforrna Hotel and there I meet many 
people that I steel remember them all. Miss Regina 
Davis, Miss Helen Rosen, Mr. and Mrs. Gallagher, Mr. 
Lippman, that I steel meet him in the Del Prado Hotel 
that is my new work and here I am alreadily known for 
many people from the United States. As all people 
know when you are a boy you never get in love, but I 
did. I get in love with Kaye Jonassen, she was a beauti- 
ful woman and I did love her, but know I don't feel 
very good because she is gone to the States, but lets 
forget about it because I must be able to do my work 
every day. 

Working now in the Del Prado Hotel now I know 
more friends, as, Mr. and Mrs. Nelson, Miss Kelly, Miss 
Miller, Mr. Anthony Quinn, Mr. Sam Houston, Mr. 
Roma, Mr. Tyrone Power and his wife Linda Christain, 
Mr. Rabb, Mr. Shenkel, Mr. Jones, Mr. Johnson and 
Mr. Clark Clark. 

My ambitions are to be manager of the Hotel Del 
Prado, because when I be the manager the hotel is 

going to have a perfect order in service, attention, and 
a very good personal because the personal is one of the 
most important things in hotels. 

Before I get in the Reforma Hotel I start selling 
lottery tickets, I was ten years, I did get good money on 
that but always my ambitions were to be a page boy so 
I start trying to be a page boy so I learn more English 
talk with people practice and for all the ways hoping 
and selling more and more in lottery tickets you have 
many things to do you have to give ideas to the person 
who ask you, Which ticket do you think is going to 
win the big prize? and then you give your idea and 
sometimes they buy and sometimes they don't but 
some day the manager call and he tell me, Henry I 
have work for you, and I ask, Which work sir, he say, 
Your going to work as page boy. You cant imagine how 
happy did I feel from that time I have telling you all 
about and now I tell you about my friend another 
page boy Eloy Olguin, which is a very good boy be- 
cause he has make it very good too. 

This book is a sequel to an earlier volume called 
Write Me a Poem, Baby. When the earlier book was 
issued, the publishers happened to think about young 
Jay Egan of Woonsocket, editor of a juvenile news- 
paper called The Gazette. A copy of the book was sent 
to Editor Egan, with a request for criticism. He wrote: 

I read the book "Write Me a Poem Baby" by Mr. 
H. Allen Smith. I first picked up the book, I sat down 

[ 3 ] 

near where my mother was ironing, and I started, right 
on the first page, laughing out loud. My mother got 
cureious and she started to read it and she forgot her 
ironing and kept on reading. 

As you know, on Friday night all the good TV pro- 
grams are on, well naturally I turned on the TV on 
and left it on. I said to myself well while Fin alone I 
miteas well read the book. I didnt even look at the TV 
that's the truth because it was much funnier than the 
TV. Many frazes were very funny, some were riots, 
andsome were not funny but a little bit interesting. 


Some of the words were too big like tentative or 
documents, etc. But no matter what criticizims I have 
I still think it is a dandy book. Sincerely yours. 

Jay A. Egan 

P. S. I think this is a dandy book but I don't think 
it will sell as good as Edwin O'Connors book "The Last 

Written by me. 

Now, it seems to me that two important things are 
to be learned from Jay Egan's critique. First, and most 
important, if you didn't read Write Me a Poem, Baby, 
now you know what you missed a dandy book, with 
big words and with many funny frazes. Second, there 
is a lesson here for grown-up book reviewers they 
should tell about the circumstances surrounding their 
actual reading of a book. Gilbert Highet and John K. 
Hutchins and Orville Prescott those guys would 

[ 3* ] 

never have the courtesy to inform the reader that they 
began by picking the book up; if they read a book 
while their mothers were ironing, they should say so, 
for an ironing mother in the background can have a 
very important effect on criticism. 

P. S. Jay Egan hit it right on the nose that dandy 
book sold real good but not as good as The Last 

Earl Wilson once published a composition written 
by a ten-year-old Long Island boy, an only child. It 
said, somewhat mysteriously: 


I wouldn't mind having a brother. But the trouble is 
I dont. And I won't because the person who does it 
cant do it. 

Several years ago a boy named Robert Hanson Stiver 
wrote a school composition which started out as an 
adventure story. In the middle of it, however, there 
was a sudden change of mood, and Robert revealed 
himself as a person grown skeptical about radio and 
television commercials. In his story he used real trade 

names, but I don't have his courage and have substi- 
tuted blanks. Here is the story: 

One Winter night my brothers and I went fishing 
off an old bridge. All of a sudden a board gave way and 
my big brother went in the river. None of us could 
swim, so I took out my flashlight with new bat- 
teries and a bulb, and started signaling. After about 
two minutes it went out. My younger brother had a 

flashlight with batteries and a bulb, and I started 

signaling with it. After about two hours some men 
went in the river and pulled my brother out. The flash- 
light was still burning brightly. 

After this don't believe all you hear about bat- 
teries. They don't have any more nine lives than I do. 

Rudolph Elie, late columnist for the Boston Herald, 
kept abreast of juvenile writing in his area. Once he 
reported on a new newspaper called Aircraft, put out 
by two boys, Dave Clinkman and Geoff Tupper in 
Marblehead. Editor Tupper is author of a serial story 
entitled "The Surprise Attack" in which Ivan, one of 
the heroes, has discovered that the people of Venus 
breathe cobalt. Columnist Elie also noted a brilliant 
editorial in Aircraft, inspired by a fatal accident in 
Marblehead. The editorial: 

[ 33 1 

What do you get by careless driving? In the end, 
practically nothing. 

Mrs. J. Hoyt Geer of Dallas has furnished me with 
some of the literary works of her daughter, Genie. 
Among Genie's essays, all of which were written at the 
age of seven, is one which manages to compress the 
mystery of life into one Hemingwayish sentence: 


In the medo there was a larg cow. It had a baby. The 
baby was small. It ate the gras and it was a good cow. 
And it had a baby and it had a baby and on it went. 

Here are three more essays by Genie: 


A band came to twon and there was a trumpit a 
banjo a piano and all sorts off things a clown that was 
so funny it made evreine laugh. The band played beau- 
tiful music. And some off the songs were a sunny day. a 
rainbow, and love. And they made lots off money all 
there lives. 

(Sounds like Lawrence Welk.) 

There was to mice and one cat. Now . . . the cat 
liked to chase the mice, but the mice all-wase tricked 
him. But one day he ate them up. Oh! a unarmas 
anuml came and ate him up. Oh! and that was the 

[ 34 ] 


One day a riter came to town and started makeing 
books and evreone bought them. But one day he went 
broke. And that was the end and seemed to him it was 
a bad day. But evre once in a while he'd be lucky. But 
that was all THE END. 

(This little girl knows about things!) 

Genie Geer arrived at the age of eight, and wrote 
the following newsy letter to her grandmother: 

Dear Nannie 

I am now sick with a cold, yet I can get around. I 
don't have any fever, I had grapefruit, and apple juice, 
and castoria of course! Christmas is getting near. IV 
had a lot of fun in school and have been learning to 
borrow in sabtrack-shoin. Well, about Three nights 
befor Dec. 3 Mom thought that she heard rain, and 
looked out of the den door, she saw a long pink tail in 
the garbage (it was tipped over) and the thing with 
the pink tail backed out, it was at least i2 l /2 feet long! 
and Mom screamed it was a oppossom! Daddy said that 
it would make mintsmeat out of the Cat! but I was 
glad it didn't. Thats all I can thing of but pretty soon 
I will wright another letter. 

Lots of love x x x x x 


Tess Crager's daughter, Gretchen, is now married 
to a Yale professor; but when she was ten years old, 

[ 35 ] 

way down yonder in New Orleans, she composed what 
to me is one of the greatest of all poems concerning 
that glorious season when the sap rises. The poem was 
sent to me by Mary Rose Bradford: 


The goat meets the goat, 
The ram meets the ram, 
I will go f owit 
And meet my man. 

Mrs. Lucie Read of Salem, Massachusetts, remem- 
bers a poem written by a young friend of hers many 
years ago. The title of the poem was "The Dead 
Child/' The first part told of how the narrator went 
into "a dark shamber" where she saw the dead child. 
The concluding lines were: 

Its soul was taken by the Lord 
And there it lay as stiff as a "board. 
It might have been my dearest joy, 
Was it a girl, or was it a boy? 

Torn Bissell is still editing his mimeographed news- 
paper, The Fenelon Place Journal, over in Connecti- 
cut. Tom is the son of Richard Bissell, the author and 
playwright, who is always referred to in the Journal as 
"The Famous Author/' The following item appeared 
in the BIG HOLIDAY ISSUE!!! of the Journal: 

I 36 ] 

by Sam Bissell, age 6 
(A Special Interview) 

When I woke up I came downstairs and saw a 
Christmas stocking full of candy and presents, and I 
had a apple and a tangerine and also I had a lot of 
stuff. Then I went back upstairs again. Also I took 
everything out of my stocking and then I got dressed. 
I went downstairs and I had breakfast and then Papa 
said we should stay in line and then Papa came back 
and waved his hand and we walked in the Christmas 
room, and everybody saw their Christmas presents and 
also a big pretty Christmas tree that Santa brought. 
Then we opened our Christmas prenesces and also I 
got ummm a drum and a cement truck from Santa 
Glaus. I got a west guitar from Roy Rogers and Santa 
Glaus. It's brown. I ate up all of my candy and Aunt 
Bess and Aunt Marguerite gave it to me. And Aunt 
Susan and Uncle Fred gave me some games of cards, 
Forest Friends, and also I got a engineer game. And 
Sis gave me a neat shirt. Then we opened the pool 
game. Then all the presents were opened so we ate 
lunch. [At this point the editor reread the story to Sam 
which Sain had just dictated to him. Sam continued] 
I goofed. Grandma and Grandpa really gave me those 
games. Aunt Susan and Uncle Fred gave me that gun 
holster and gun and that big brown thing. [A jug, ED.] 

Debby Choate, who lives on Riverside Drive in New 
York, reports to me that she once had a teacher named 

[ 37 ] 

Michael So-and-so whom she disliked intensely, so she 
wrote a poem about him: 


Here lies Black Mike 

Never to be forgot, 
We've put a flower at his head, 

At t'other end a pot. 

A teacher in St. Michael's School at Hoban Heights, 
Pennsylvania, collected a few "boners" she found in 
papers turned in by her pupils. These were printed in 
a diocese newspaper, then picked up by Robert Syl- 
vester of the New York News, and now it's my turn: 

We dont raise silk worms in the U. S. because the 
U, S. gets her silk from rayon. He is a much larger 
animal and gives more silk. 

Denver is just below the "O" in Colorado. 

An adjective is a word hanging down from a noun. 

They don't raise anything in Kansas but alpaca grain 
and they have to irritate that to make it grow. 

The Mediterranean and the Red Sea are connected 
by the sewage canal. 

Marconi invented the Atlantic ocean. 

Abraham Lincoln was shot by Clare Boothe Luce. 

When a man has more than one wife he is a piga- 

[ 38 ] 

An epidemic is a needle that puts you to sleep. 

A spinster is a bachelors wife. 

Chicago is nearly at the bottom of Lake Michigan. 

The equator is a menagerie lion running around the 
earth and through Africa. 

The sun never sets on the British Empire because it 
is in the East and the sun sets in the West. 

Minute Men were called that because they stopped 
to get ready a minute. 

When you breath you inspire and when you don't 
you expire. 

A blizzard is the inside of a fowl. 

Another item of this type, written by a second- 

The minus sign means take away. The pjus sign 
means give it back. x ^% 

Marc Antony Russell, son oa Chicago magazine 
editor, was six years old when hedecided the time had 
come for him to begin writing plays. Though an ac- 
complished dramatist, Marc was no good at penman- 
ship, so he dictated his first play to his mother. "It 
was taken down verbatim/' reports his father. "He 
dictated the title first, then the cast, and so on. He also 
made very sure of stage directions and was insistent 
about the use of parentheses/' Here is Marc's drama: 

[ 39 1 


Television reader 

Television interrupter 


Society lady 


A television station. 

TV READER: The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at 
my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy foot- 
stool. Thy . . . 

TV INTERRUPTER: What ya doin' there son? 
TV READER: Will you please get out of the television 
studio and stop interrupting? 
TV INTERRUPTER: No I will not get out. 
TV READER: Then I'll call the police. 

TV READER: (picking up telephone) Send a police- 
man to the television studio and catch a TV inter- 

(A screeching sound is heard from far off) 
TV INTERRUPTER AND TV READER: I hear a screeching 
sound getting louder and louder. 

POLICEMAN: (calling from the ground up to the win- 
dow) Is this the place you wanted me to come to? 

TV INTERRUPTER: Help! Get me out of here. 
POLICEMAN: Ha. Ha. Fve got you now. 
TV READER: Look out, you're going to bust the Bible. 
TV READER: Lookout! 

[ 4 1 

(They crash to the -floor) 

TV READER: Too late, you busted it. See what you've 


I suspect that this Marc Antony Russell has the 
makings of some kind of genius in him. A few months 
after he wrote his first play, he went to work on a proj- 
ect which he called Webster s Dictionary of Goofy 
Words. The original manuscript was printed in block 
letters on both sides of four large shirt cardboards. One 
line, in large letters, said, REG. u. s. PAT. OFF. I don't 
have the space to include all of the words and defini- 
tions, but here are some of them: 

ABASAB A one hundred foot long blister. 

BAR A place people go when they want to get drunk. 

BUMBUMSKILOPUSUS A disease so terrible that you 


BARD A pen that looks like a pencil. 

DOBERMAN A person that weighs 2,030 pounds. 

DARD A person that falls out of the window every 


EB A frame that a baby swing could go on. 

EBERCO Exactly like an eb except for its shape. 

FABBER A person that talks all their life and never 


GABEO A doorstep in Mexico. 

[ 41 1 

GIZABOO A horrible looking monster with a voice like 

a teddy bear. 

HARDY Somebody that bangs on the table very hard. 

HAP Half happy. 

IERE A snow more slippery than regular snow or ice. 

JAZZABAR A drunk jazz quartet. 

KASABAR An upside-down Checker Cab. 

NAG A person named Mac standing on their head. 

OBEO A piano key in Africa. 

POEMKI Translated from Polish meaning a goofy 


PANNER A painter standing on his head. 

PAMMER A photograph of dinosaurs. 

QUOTO A silly ditto mark. 

RAXS Noisy food, 

SEBAR Something to eat. Only the empire state bldg 

likes the taste of it. 

WONSOME The same meaning as "bard/ 7 

XIKAMOR A baby polar bear. 

As has been said before, when a child sets his mind 
to the task of writing a stern and forceful letter, he 
doesn't fool around. From Fort Collins, Colorado, 
comes the story of a boy who spent the entire spring 
selling garden seed from door to door in order to get a 
premium which was pictured in glorious color in the 
magazine ad. Here is the letter he wrote to the per- 
fidious corporation: 

Dear Sir 

You are a chiseler and a cheat. You were suppose to 
send a baseball glove like the one in the picture. You 
dident. You were supposed to send an extra prize also. 
You dident. 

Your enemy, 

PS Remember when I get mad I stay mad, 

Mrs. Kenneth Switzer of Flagstaff, Arizona, was 
often amused by the way her five-year-old, Martha, 
would sit down and tell stories to little Ann, who was 
only one. Mrs. Switzer decided she'd eavesdrop and 
write down one of the stories as it came from Martha's 
lips. She was fortunate enough to be listening on the 
day when Martha chose to narrate the life of Jesus. 
This is how it went: 

Once upon a time a man and a lady lived in Yoldey. 
They didn't have any babies, but soon God sent them 
a sweet little baby named Jesus. They named him 
Jesus. He grew and grew without sucking his thumb. 
When he got as big as Mike [a neighbor boy] they went 
up to Igley. Jesus talked to the big men. They gave 
him presents. He loved children and told the mothers 
and daddies to back up and let the children sit on his 
lap. Then he rode to Pondey on a little donkey. The 
people waved palm branches at him and called "hi" at 
him. When they ate supper he stood up and fussed at 

[ 43 1 

the men for bad manners. Don't eat food with your 
knife. The men began not liking him, and made him 
carry a heavy old wooden cross. It scratched his back 
and made it bleed. 

The story seems to have ended there but, as it 
stands, it's got a lot in it. If you study it carefully you'll 
find that even the undertones have undertones. 

Another letter from camp, courtesy of the New 
York Herald Tribune: 

Dear Mom How are you I am studying Zoo-olgy. It is 
neat. I have 2 frogs and a lizzard. Love. 


A boy named Richard Parry contributed his version 
of "J a k and the Beanstalk" to a school paper, the 
Buckley Beagle, in California; and Gene Sherman 
thought the story was so exciting that he reprinted it 

in his column. Here it is: 


A long time ago, there wus a little boy named Jack. 
His mother wus very poor and his father was ded and 
his cow did not give milk. So his mother tolds him to 
go to town. By and by he met a pedler. When Jak 
wausent looking the pedler pulled the cow throo the 
booshs. When Jack turned around he found five culerd 

[ 44 1 

beans on the fens. Jack started to crie becus he knew 
he wood get in trubl. He was rite. 

When he came home his mother threw the beands 
away in a bad temper. Over night sumthing started to 
grow. Yesterday before it started to grow a stemroaler 
possht the beans in the growned. It grew one foot past 
the enisfere. He diddint know a gient so he started to 
clime into trubl. When he got their he saw a harp. The 
second time he went up he saw a hen that lade gold 
eggs and the third time he saw the giente. The giente 
dropped a bag of gold. Jack slide down the bean stalk 
and shook it so the gient fell and made a hole and they 
livd hapelly ever after. 

One of these days, when I get caught up on every- 
thing, I'm going to sit down for several hours and see 
if I can't figure out that word "enisfere." I have a 
hunch it is the stuff gobbed up on the other side of the 

In the same Buckley Beagle is a nature note con- 
tributed by Tom Huntington. It says: 

We have an owl tree in our yard full of holes and 
owls keep coming out all night. 

That item has a bad effect on me, especially on sleep- 
less nights, when a vision seems to appear before me 
a tree with a lot of holes in it, and steady streams of 
owls pouring out of each hole. It's a frightening sort 
of thing because one lone and lorn owl is about all the 
owl I can cope with. 

[ 45 1 

My own Nobel and Pulitzer awards already have 
been given to an assortment of Espy children on the 
basis of writings used in my earlier book. Theire are 
more. The following note was written by Gassy Espy, 
and again it must be explained that Joey and Freddy 
are her sisters, not her brothers. Pet is a cat. 

Dear mommy: 

I love you. I love you so much that I don't no what 
to do. I want to tell you about a little tale about Pet 
and L Pet and I went out walking we herd a sound. It 
went tap tap tap. It was Joey and Freddy taping on a 
tree. I said to Joey and Freddy I think you are little 
Birds. Joey and Freddy said to me I think you are a 
little worm. 


And we find included among the unpublished 
papers of Joanna Espy (Joey) the following moral dis- 


The Harmful Prank 

After we had moved in for the first Halloween in our 
new neighborhood a boy was telling us about how all 
the other Halloweens had been like. This boy told me 
and my sisters that a group of boys got together and 
went around on a lot of streets with lots of pumpkins 
and climb in the trees with the pumpkins and anyone 
that walked under would get a pumpkin dropped on 

their heads. He also told that they were mean to little 
animals and killed them and threw them at people. 
They only killed mice if they could find any. 

It is bad to be mean to animals just because it is 
halloween and it would be a disgusting sight. Someone 
could be hurt easily if a pumpkin was thrown at some- 
one or on anybodys head. Halloween is for fun and so 
the little kids can get candy but it also can be fun for 
the elder children to play pranks that arent harmful. 

Not long ago the Franklin Watts company, pub- 
lishers of The First Book of Bees, received the follow- 
ing letter: 

Dear Sir: 

Pleas send me a queen bee. I want to start a bee 
colony. How much does it cost or does it cost any- 
thing? My daddy is goging to help me start one. If you 
have any instructions please send me some of them. 
This is my first time to have a beehive. Send me a list 
of the things I have to have. I will by them, (signed) 
Year Frend. 

PS. if it coust anything dont send me the bee but how 
much it cost and the instructions how to do it. 

In the summer of 1957 the publishing house of 
Doubleday & Company received a^ manuscript from 
Longview, Texas, and with it a letter which said: 

I am twelve years old and this is my first attempt at 
a written story and it is wished that it meets with your 

[ 47 1 

approval. Should you desire to publish this story, please 
advise the writer at the above address. The name of 
this story should be You Dog. Yours very truly. 

David L. Hill 

Ann Durell of Doubleday, knowing that I have been 
interested in such manuscripts, sent David's along to 
me and I take great pleasure in publishing it here, in 


One night a riot was started among the patients, the 
police and staff came to stop it. It wasn't until the next 
morining that . . . Percy H. Barnes was missing from 
the Red Rock Institution for the Insane. Percy had the 
same night stolen a car from a used car shop and killed 
the owner in cold blood from a blunt instrument. The 
next day driving along at a medium rate of speed Percy 
thought that he was free as a bird. f 

But meanwhile in the large city of Los Angeles a 
police search was in full flight. Meantime Percy had 
stopped at a filling station late that afternoon, the 
service station attendant came to the car, Ethyl the 
man replied solomnly to the Insane man. Percy nodded 
politely, the man thought he had seen the man before 
but he didn't know where. So while Percy H. Barnes 
was waiting there in the car the man sneaked into his 
office to phone the police, the man knew who he was 
from a wanted poster he had noticed. 


Percy had become suspicious at the man's ways so 
Percy got out of the car he had killed a man to get 

[ 48 1 

and walked into the office unmolested by the service 
station man, the man was calling the police Percy 
thought then he was sure of it, the man was saying, 
hello police headquarters?, Percy H. Barnes is in my 
station here on highway 204. The policeman replied 
204 you said? Yes Sir, Hurry please hurry, the man 
slammed the receiver on the hook and turned around 
there stood Percy H. Barnes, no please no, "arrrggghhh 7 * 
Percy had strangled the man to death. 


Hello, Hello, click, click, click went the receiver but 
there was no answer to the policemans frantic attempts 
to make contact with the man. Both men Percy Barnes 
had murdered were elderly. Percy thought as he was 
making his escape, Hmmm it seems to me I remember 
a bridge in this part of the country, I think its the high- 
est one in the world, I've forgotten the name of it but 
they would never find me there, that is if nobody were 
there to tell them I was there, Ha Ha ha laughed Percy 
in wild fiendish laughteer. It was out of pure good for- 
tune for Percy to find the bridge the very next day by 
asking a fellow tourist. 

Percy stopped the car and hid it from view in the 
brush and weeds about a block from the bridge. 

Percy Hennington Barnes last seen driving a black 
sedan on highway 204 said the broadcaster. Now they 
had a all-points alert out for Percy H. Barnes escaped 
patient from Red Rock Institution. A stroke of luck 
granted this wish for Percy H. Barnes, there had not 
been a tourist at the Royal Gorge bridge that day and 

[ 49 ] 

thier wasnt one thier yet to be witness to the murder 
o the three men in the little house on the thousand ft. 

Percy meanwhile forced the three men to get in one 
of the lifts to take people down in the gorge. The idea 
was Percy thought nobody would be as likely to see him 
murder the men down in the gorge. Percy then hit two 
of the men in the temples striking them dead instantly, 
he used an iron bar for the murders, he was about to 
strike the other man when a voice rang out from the 
top of the gorge. O. k. thats enough, come on Percy 
get in one of the lifts and come back up or do we have 
to come down and get you. While all this is going on 
the automatic Juke box puts on a record called "Talk- 
ing to the Blues/' Yoll never get me you dumb Jackass 
flatfeet, with a wild rage of terror Percy !L Barnes tried 
to climb the almost sheer canyon wall. Come on down 
Percy, you'll never make that climb. Percy I'll give you 
one minute to make up your mind. 

Percy during the minute had been wasting it trying 
to climb the wall. O. K. Percy your time is up, let him 
have it boys. Percy had just grasped a girder of the top 
of the bridge when the police let go with blazes of 
machine gun fire. Percy caught all of it in the back, 
dust flew out of the dirty brown leather jacket and 
Percy's grasp on the girder weakened and Percy finally 
gave way to the flying bullets, Aiiiiiiiiieeeeeee. Percy 
fell one thousand ft. to the canyon far below. Percys 
arm fell limply two seconds after he had hit bottom. 


The police loaded Percy's crushed body into one of 
the lifts and sent him back up to the top of the bridge 
and put his body in the black herse and the sirens 
moaned very loud and then cut down low to here the 
last sentence of "Talking to the blues" and the word, 
"You Dog." 


It pleasures me to report that I have received a holo- 
graph letter from David L. Hill himself, granting me 
permission to use "YOU DOG" in this book, and tell- 
ing me that if I want them, he has two other novels 
finished, namely, "A STAB IN THE DARK" and 
add that he writes, appropriately enough, in red ink. 

The manner in which some little boys occupy their 
time is illustrated in an essay written by Dennis Heine- 
mann of Los Angeles and passed along to posterity by 
Matt Weinstock, as follows: 

A little boy was looking at his fish. They werent 
doing anything so he went into his room and read a 
book. Some friends came over. They played records. 
Davy Crocket was their favorite. They played it 200 
times and then went to bed they were so tired. 

[ 5' 1 

Another boy, in the same school as Dennis, was 
Brace Brill and his essay demonstrates the manner in 
which jungle beasts occupy their time: 

Once there was a giraffe. He lived in the jungle. He 
liked to eat grass and bananas and leaves. At night he 
visited the other animals. They talked and played poker 
and drank lemonade until midnight. 

That poker game fascinates me; I'd dearly love to 
see a giraffe worrying over his hole card. 

The American father of today is often inclined to 
boast to his indolent son how hard he worked when he 
was a boy. In most cases he talks of a paper route, or of 
cutting grass. But when James H. Easley of South 
Bend, Indiana, reaches the point where he needs to 
boast of his first job, he can truthfully say, "I was in 
the insurance business. The dog insurance business/' 

James organized his dog insurance business when he 
was ten years old. He worked at it for a year or two and 
then abandoned it to take up a career as a writer of 
mystery stories. The following document, which he 
wrote during his first year in business, was sent to me 
by his aunt: 


My dear friends and agents of the company, 
I don't want you to be disappointed if in this first 

year we do not have enough money Because I don't 
figger to. We have what you might call a start on a 
Shoestring, inother words without any money. For that 
reason this year will be a tough one. If this co. insures 
6 dogs and six dogs die what do you think we have? We 
have a broke company. 


To start a company you must have a lot of money. 
Second you must get a Liscense. Now go out and sell. 
The trouble is we do not have anything on this list n 


The two ways of selling are very fine. The first one 
is a very modern way, it is called direct mail letters. To 
proseed you have to write a very polite letter telling 
your prospects that dog insurance is just what they need 
give them your business address and tell them to call 
on you at any time. The second way is called Who's 
Who. The agent must know who has a dog and who 
has not. These are the two methods. You can use 
either one, but in a small town I prefer the Who's 
Who, it works better. In a city the direct mail is best. 


The way the insurance world revolves is harder than 
you think. The first step is to sell a policy and then 
collect the premium ($1). From there on you are in 
danger. For example, a couple of weeks after a policy 
is sold the dog gets hit by a car and the hospital bill 
is $10.00 the company must pay that Bill. Then say 
two weeks later the dogs eats too much and is sick and 
that Bill is $5.00. The company must pay the $5.00 

[ 53 ] 

then he is all through because $10.00 and $5.00 is 
$15.00 and that is what he is insured for. Then a week 
later he gets the flew and the Bill is for $5.00 and the 
co. does not have to pay that because he has paid out 
to the dogs Master all that the dog was insured for so 
the only thing for him to do is to wait another year 
and buy another policy. 


James H. Easley, Pres. 

Dolly Reitz, who reitz for the Los Angeles Mirror- 
News, has a daughter called Eight, and Eight got a 
letter from one of her friends. On the first page it said: 

I love you, I love you. I love you. I love you. I love 

On the next page it said: 

Why dont you invite me to stay at your house over- 
night. Someday. Now when we play we are Prince and 
Princess. When we grow up we will be King and Queen. 
We will play in the Sprinklers ; 

Mrs. Frank L. West of Pacific Palisades has for- 
warded a Christmas list typed out by her son Marshall 
when he was eight. It follows: 


# very much needed % probabal & fantasy 

[ 54 ] 

& L. Daizy bb Air Rifle Carbine 
% Wrist watch 
& Supply of bbs 

# Couple of eversharps 59^ Sees Robuck 
% Pack catnip seed 

# Book on simplified atomic engry 
HaHa New racer bycicle 

# Set of cleats 

& Electric motor (with dry battry) 
& Water pistol (49^ Western Auto) 
% Lots of books 

# Money 

In 1957 Virginia Meholin, nine years old, of Steu- 
benville, Ohio, wrote a letter to her Aunt Peg. The 
purpose of the letter was to thank her Aunt Peg for a 
birthday gift, but Virginia knew that such a letter 
should not be abrupt, that it should be newsy. The 
letter found its way eventually to Aunt Peg's daughter 
in far-off Beirut, Lebanon, and Aunt Peg's daughter, 
Mrs. John Koenreich, sent it along to me. 

Here it is: 

Dear Aunt Peg, 

Thank you for my lovely sweater. I have really needed 
it. I wear it to school when it is warm enough. 

Our cat was in heat a couple of days ago and wanted 
to get married. She accidently got out. We could not 

[ 55 ] 

find her so she had to stay out all night. In the morn- 
ing I asked daddy if the cat was back yet. He looked 
out the window and said, "yes, oh golly yes!" I looked 
out and guess what? Miss Meow had Two boy friends. 
We let Miss Meow in and one of the cats left. The 
other cat started meowing. I think he was saying, "hey, 
beautiful come on out/' Daddy got mad and chased 
him away. Now our cat will have babies. She will be 
spaded after she has them and they are older. 

An eleven-year-old schoolboy in New York was given 
the assignment of reading two books by Mark Twain 
and writing a report on them. The report follows: 


The Prince and the Pauper was about two boys that 
looked like. One boy was a prince and the other was 
a pauper. 

One day the two boys came together in the palace 
after talking for a while the prince wanted to see how 
it felt being dressed like a pauper so they exchanged 
clothes just then one of the guards came in. When he 
saw the pauper he was asked to leave the palace. The 
pauper said he was the real prince and the prince the 
pauper but the guard didn't believe the boy. The guard 
send the real prince out of the palace. 

The real prince had to beg and steal for his father. 
More than one thing happened to the real prince, 
while the pauper was having a real good time but always 
saying I am not the real prince. The pauper had a mean 

[ 56 ] 

father so the father took the boy away with him even 
though the boy kept saying I am the prince. The father 
only laughed. 

At the end of the real prince is belived. but he saw 
how mean the paupers father was so he made him his 
vallet and they lived together. 

Huckelberry Fins is a very good book to read be- 
cause it has a lot of adventure in it. Huckelberry Finn 
is a kid that ran away from his house because he 
thought that his parents did not like him. So he went 
away and he got lost and his parents found his bed 
empty and his father phone the police and they when 
and found him. Fm sure that any of you will enjoy 
this book. 

I hate to be a tattletale, but if that boy's teacher 
wants my opinion, I think that he actually read The 
Prince and the Pauper, but I don't think he read a lick 
of Huck Finn, because IVe read it several times and I 
could swear that nobody in it ever phones the police. 

A boy in New Jersey turned in the following remark- 
able piece of literary criticism: 


The book I report is Tarzan and the ant men. Their 
is no report because it would tell you how it timed out. 

When she was ten Susan McClelland went from 
Indiana to California to spend some time with her 

[ 57 ] 

grandmother. In her first experience with letter-writing 
she reported back to her mother: 

I met a new girl and her name is Carloin Boson and 
she is 14 and lives in hillsburro. We have gone horse 
riding with her. Please ask Dicky if he would wright 
and toll him happy birthday, OK. So Tinia (dog) ses 
woof huh, well tell her woof right back (bellow). We 
have gone to San fransisco qwight a few times. I had 
a nice trip and I had a fruit snack and then a half an 
hour later we had our Big dinner, there was fried 
salmnon a big salid and salid dressing salt and peper 
suger tea and milk and a big dissert. In swimming I 
made Swimmer, there is a san flee, low Crop, Mino, 
Middel Group, and Swimner, highest Groep, and I 
made swinner in my first week. 


Susan M. 

In my fat file of children's writings I have come 
upon a single sheet from a school composition book, 
with five words printed on it in large letters. The only 
identification is the name Stephen Sanborn, written 
on the back. The five words are: 


[ 58 ] 

Of Evelyn Waugh, Charles J. Rolo has written: 
"There are few contemporary writers of the first rank 
whose imagination runs to such appalling and macabre 
inventions as Waugh's does; and there is none who 
carries audacity to such lengths . . ." 

In the course of collecting material for an omnibus 
of Waugh's writings, Mr. Rolo discovered that the 
Englishman had composed his first novel at the age of 
seven years and one month. Here it is, complete: 




I bet you 500 pounds I'll win. The speeker was 
Rupert a man of about 25 he had a dark bushy mistarsh 
and flashing eyes. 

I shouldnot trust to much on your horse said Tom 
for ineed he had not the sum to spear. 

The race was to take pleace at ten the following 

The Race 

The next morning Tom took his seat in the gront 
stand while Rupert mounted Sally (which was his 
horse) with the others to wate for the pistol shot 
which would anounse the start. 

The race was soon over and Rupet had lost. What 
was he to do could he do the deed? Yes I'll kill him in 
the night, he though 

[ 59 1 

The Fire 

Rupert crept stedfustly along with out a sound but 
as he drew his sword it squeaked a little this awoke 
Tom seasing a candle he lit it just as that moment 
Rupert struck and sent the candle flying 

The candle lit the curtain Rupert trying to get away 
tumbled over the bed Tom maid a dash for the door 
and cleided with a perlisman who had come to see 
what was the matter and a panic took place. 


While Tom and the peliesman were escaping through 
the door Rupert was adopting quite a diffrat methard 
of escape he puld the matris of the bed and hurled the 
It out of the window then jumed out he landed safe 
and sound on the matris then began to run for all he 
was worth 

Now let us leave Rupert and turn to Tom and the 
peliesman as soon as they got out Tom told the pelies- 
man what had hapened, 

Hot on the Trail 

"See there he is" said Tom "We must follow him 
and take him to prizen" said the peliesman. 

Theres no time to spere said Tom letts get horses 
said the peliesman so they bort horses and and galer- 
pin in the direcion thet had seen him go. 

On they went until they were face to face with each 
other, the peliesman lept from his horse only to be 

stabed to the hart by Rupert then Tom jumped down 
and got Rupert a smart blow on the cheak. 


A Deadly Fight 

This enraged Rupert that that he shouted and made 
a plung but Tom was too quick for him artfully doge- 
ing the sword he brout his sword round on Ruperts 
other cheak. 

Just at that moment Ruper slashed killed the pelies- 
mans horse then lept on Toms horse and golapt off. 


The Mysterious Man 

Of course ther was no chance of catching him on 
foot so Tom walked to the nearest inn to stay the 
night but it was ful up he had to share with another 

Thou Tom was yery tired he could not sleep, their 
was something about the man he was he did not like 
he reminded him of some one he didnot know who. 

Sudnly he felt something moveing on the bed look- 
ing up he saw the man fully dressed just getting off 
the bed 


Run to Erth 

Now Tom could see that the mysteraous man was 
Rupert. Has he come to do a merder? Or has he only 
cometostay the night? thees were the thoughts that 
rushed throu Toms head. 

he lay still to what Rupert would do first he opened 
a cuberd and took out a small letter bag from this he 

too some thing wich made Toms blud turn cold it was 
a bistol Tom lept forward and seesed Rupert by the 
throught and flung him to the ground 

then snaching a bit of robe from the ground he bound 
Rupert hand and foot. 



then Tom drest hinself then Ton took Rupert to 
the puliese cort Rupert was hung for killing the pulies- 
man. I hope the story will be a leson to you never to 

Thus the glorious ending of it. I admire the moral 
in it and I should like to make a couple of critical ob- 
servations. Young Evelyn Waugh, in common with 
almost all adolescent fiction writers, has the valuable 
trait of achieving intense excitement within his own 
breast whenever his story grows exciting. At those mo- 
ments, the young writer has no time to worry over the 
niceties of either spelling or of punctuation. 

There is the matter, too, of the perlisman (or pelies- 
man) with whom Tom cleided. That clizzion was a 
bad thing for the peliesman for he ended up dead (for 
a long time there I thought it was only his horse that 
got killed, but even the English wouldn't hang Rupert 
for killing a horse). I was sorry, too, about that horse, 
for when he wasn't galerpin he golapt. And I have 

never in all my reading seen the word "cuberd" spelled 

All that is actually known about the notorious Out- 
law Club of Old Roaring Brook Road is contained in 
three short documents found by Mrs. Jane Choate in 
the gang's den. The Outlaw Club began in a shack 
built by its members but the shack was too cold for 
winter meetings and the club's affairs were moved in- 
doorsinto a basement storeroom in the Choate 
house. This is where Mrs. Choate found the afore- 
mentioned documents. 

The first appears to be a sort of charter, and follows: 

















The seeds of dissension are apparent in that charter. 
I guessed that the document was drawn up by a dic- 
tator, who demanded subservience from his subor- 

The second paper is a letter: 

Dear John, 

I am very mad because you have not ben keeping up 
the club meatings even if Vi the club is absent. I do 
not like the way you and some outher members have 
been telling their parents about the club actitives. we 
will have to move the club if you don,t be on your 
lookout. I think we need a new secuarty because you 
never send out notices about the next meating. I am 
sending the code with this I want it distrubtied BY 
MAIL. I have 100 yds. of walki-talki wire and I have 
one reciveing and sending instrement with one boy 
scout code machine, will you try to get up a meating? 
will you send out the notices insted of makeing me do 
it? (if you don,t some body else will take over. 




PS. there is one club copy it is marked keep one for 
your self and send one to: taffy and eric i will keep 
one for myself, Keep all the letters I send you and the 
club copy code hidden in the club. 

That one letter alone shows that trouble is brewing, 
that Nat is in a temper and that if conditions don't 
improve, some changes are going to be made. Appar- 
ently John got up a meating, and it was lovely and 
loud, for the next and final letter reads: 





And that's precisely what happened. They got more 
spearet, but it was the spearet of discontent and re- 
bellion, and the Outlaw Club did indeed fall apart. 
Code and all. 

The members of the Outlaw Club don't strike me as 
having shown much in the way of corruption and de- 
linquency. Any time a secret club of boys has as its first 
rule NO SWERING, then you can figure its members are 
not going to be out stealing hub caps and slashing con- 
vertible tops and mugging citizens. 

Olivia Mellan and several of her friends "put on a 
poem festival" on Long Island not long ago. Olivia, 
who was ten, and the other girls all wrote poems and 
made a little book to contain them. Then at the "poem 
festival" each girl got up and read her own composi- 

One by Olivia herself goes: 

If ever you should visit my house, 

If you should hear a boom, 
Have no fear. Don't worry. 

It's just from my brother's room. 
If you should ever see that mess, 

You'd probably blame my mother; 
But the one that takes all the blame, I guess, 

Is my naughty, little brother. 
If ever you should visit us, 

You'll see this little monster; 
He'scute he's smart, 
He'll creep into your heart, 

But he's a booby trap kind of youngster. 

Another of Olivia's poems is titled "Thinking about 
Professions" and would seem to indicate an end to am- 
bition. It follows : 

Thinking about professions, 
Is like difficult classroom sessions, 
Wondering what you'll be when you grow up; 
Well, finally you decide, 

[ 66 ] 

To be a housewife and a bride, 
And never win a trophy or a cup. 

The author of the following poem is a girl of ten, 
and it is directed at her sister, who is two or three years 
older. Their mother let me copy it with the proviso 
that I use no names she wants a semblance of peace 
in her family. The poem: 

I hate my sister, 

Oh boy and how, 
Fd trade her in 

Jersey cow. 
She hits me, she hurts me, 

Calls me names, 
I tell mummy 

She gets the blame. 
But when my brother 

Comes home from Groton, 
Then her life 

Is really rotton. 
He hits her, hurts her, 

Calls her names, 
But then it is a different game. 
Does he get scolded 

No not he, 

For he's the boy we're glad to see. 
But when he goes back, 

Woe is me 
When I see her, 
I run up a tree. 

A second-grade teacher in Milwaukee greeted her 
children at the beginning of a new term with an as- 
signment to write a composition on "something im- 
portant you learned during your vacation." Among the 
essays turned in was the following: 



By Eloise Coleman 

On my vacation I visited with my gran parents in 
Iowa and my gran father learned me dont get perconel 
with a chicken. My gran father has a few chickens and 
one was a chicken I got perconel with and gave the 
name Gene Autry. One day my gran mother deside to 
have stood chicken for dinner and says Orf you go out 
and kill a hen meening my gran father. I went with 
him and low and behole he took a pole with a wire on 
the end and reeched in the pen and got Gene Autry by 
the leg and pulled him out and before I cood say a 
werd he rung his neck wich pulls off his hed and he 
flops around on the grond back and forth without no 
hed on and I cryed. He was a brown one. Then he 
scalted him in hot water and picket the feathers of and 
saw me crying and says dont ever get perconel with a 
chicken. When we are at the dinner table he says it 
again so I ate some, a drumb stick. I dident say any- 
thing but it was like eating my own rellatives. So dont 
get perconel with a chicken, also a cow if you are going 
to eat it later on. Also a caff. 

Our next juvenile author describes herself as "11 yrs 
old, have terrible penmenship, modern, tall and ambi- 
tious." The terrible penrnenship she has makes me un- 
certain about her last name, which is Cillers, or Gellers, 
or Gellus, or Gillus, or Humperdinck. Her first name 
is Marilyn and her essay follows: 


To begin with you must remember the fact that I am 
from Florida (Ft.-Lauderdale to be exact) so this is 
only Ft. Laud's viewpoint. 

Some people believe that we are ruining our beautiful 
Land O Plenty by putting up factories, changing old- 
fashioned villages to thriving Metropolesons, and want- 
ing to make beautiful forests to rocket test areas. 

I have nothing against this except I will stay on 
Earth when everybodys up on Mars or the Moon. 

And as far as factories, put them up by all means 
IF (the all important word) they found a way to 

Fred Beck stands as authority for a story about a lit- 
tle girl who went to visit her aunt. The little girl had 
been raised in a heathen household but her Aunt Elsie 
was a righteous woman, and sent the child to Sunday 
School. There she was given the first Sunday School 
card she had ever seen. She wrote home: 

Dear Daddy, 

Aunt Elsie sent me to Sundy school and the kids 
sang hims and then they gave me an ad for heaven. 

love Beatrice 

When Randy Jacob of Yardley, Pennsylvania, was 
eight years old his grandfather wanted the boy to de- 
velop an interest in nature and outdoor things. So he 
told Randy to go out and observe nature, and then 
write about it, and if the stuff he wrote was good, he 
would be given some money. Randy's first submission 

The spider is not an insect. It has 8 legs. Some people 
call it an insect when it is a plain bug. It is a pest to 
most people for it makes big cobwebs in corners of walls 
and other places and leaves it. Some people are even 
afraid of it. 

The Yellowjacket is another stinging insect, it is a lot 
like the bee only smaller. It seems like it is meant for 
stinging because it has no other use. A bee makes honey, 
a wasp just walks around enjoying life, and hardly ever 
does any flying, but a yellowjacket seems to fly around 
stinging people on purpose. 

Randy got his money for that essay because he was 
a good writer even when he was eight years old. At that 
same time, he edited a little newspaper in which he 

[ 7 ] 

demonstrated a sure talent for writing humor. Witness 
this "news item" from the Forest City Times of 


FOREST CITY: At Colton Hall yesterday there was a 
concert with the Puttokosky Orchestra. It was the sec- 
ond of a series of concerts with Lawrence Lizard con- 
ducting. While they were playing his favorite theme in 
Ombedalfs Symphony No. 3, Mr. Lizard collapsed on 
the floor. He was conducting very vigorously at the 
time. He had become short of breath. 

One of the players in the orchestra saved the panic- 
stricken audience by quickly dropping his instrument, 
getting up and snatching the baton. He shouted to the 
orchestra to play the national anthem and conducted 
them several times thru the piece so the audience had 
to stand at attention. Then he shouted to the orchestra 
to continue, turned to the microphone and said, "Ladies 
and gentlemen, please be calm. This is only a slight 
case of stage fright, but the concert will not continue. 
Will everyone please leave the building so we may 
examine Mr. Lizard. Thank you for being with us. 
Goodbye. The player hadn't felt of his pulse yet. Later 
they found he was dead. Afterwards they found out 
he had had asthma for several years. 

His funeral will be tomorrow. 

He died at 3:23 p. M. April 22, 1951, A. c. 

But Fll bet when he goes down in history they will 
say that he died at the fourth measure of the first 

[ 71 ] 

theme, the 2^rd measure of the 3rd movement of Sym- 
phony No. 3 by Charles Porcupine Ombedalt 

The writing in the above epic, according to certain 
amateur authorities on children, is just a trifle too slick 
for an eight-year-old. These authorities say that Randy's 
work has been severely edited by an older person 
that a child of eight, for one thing, could never make 
it through that much prose without a few misspelled 
words. However, Randy's mother says he wrote it, and 
Fm not one to dispute a mother when she's talking 
about her own offspring. 

Once at the New York Herald Tribune a certain 
book for children arrived in the office and it was de- 
cided to hand it over to a twelve-year-old for review. 
The child wrote one of the shortest reviews on record, 
yet one of the most perceptive in the whole history of 
literary criticism a commentary that could be ap- 
plied to many another book. It follows: 

This hook is very good hut too long in the middle. 

Following publication of Write Me a Poem, Baby, 
some of my neighbors became more conscious of their 
children's writings than they had been in the past. One 

[ 72 ] 

little girl was allowed ro stay up ju^^^^ * ,. 

watch the excitement on television. Afterward, her 
mother suggested that she write her impressions of the 
election. She did. She wrote a poem: 

Clack clack 
Went the univac. 

It seems improbable that Elizabeth Anne Rout, a 
Canadian girl, ever saw the vaudeville team of Smith 
& Dale performing their famous Dr. Kronkhite act. 
Yet Elizabeth Anne wrote a play when she was nine 
years old, and as I read it I had a strange feeling that 
I was listening to Smith & Dale. The play follows: 


This sean begins in a pacuilure way. It starts with a 
begger sitting under a tree humming. It might not 
seem funny but its funny akording to the title. 
BEGGER (hum) (walk downtown) Sits down play 


LADY Would you like me to help you. 

BEGGER No thanks but its very kind of you to ask. 
LADY Well why are you playing a vilen. 

BEGGER What vilen. 
LADY The one in your hand. 

BEGGER Oh Fm beggeing. 
LADY Well when I ask you would you like me to 

help you, you said no thanks. 

[ 73 1 

BEGGER No I didn't because you didn't ask me. 
LADY Yes I did You had better come to the 

docter with me. 

BEGGER What Dr. 

LADY Never mind what Dr. just come. 

BEGGER Come where. 
LADY Look don't be silly just come. 

BEGGER Come where. 

LADY To the D rs . 

NARRATOR They are now at last in the Drs. Office. 

DR. What can I do for you. 

LADY Could you please test this man. 

DR. Where do you want me to test him. 

LADY All over the place please because I do 

not no what is wrong. 

DR. He'll have to go to the hospotill. 

LADY Is it all right begger. 


NAR. There all at the hospotill. 

DR. There is this a nice bed. 

BEGGER Yes very nice. 

NURCE Its time for your opperation. 

BEGGER What opperation. 

NURCE I can't explane now. 

NAR. The nurce & the lady are speaking together. 

NURCE Is that the truble with him. 


NURCE I'll fix that soon. Docter. 

DR. Yes. 

NURCE You have to repeat everything to him thats 
the truble. 

74 ] 

DR. w e can nx tnat soon. 

NAR. Soon he was all better and everyone was 

visiting him. 

MARY Oh hello Frank its so nice to see you I hope 
your out of the hospetil soon. 

GEORGE How do you feel Frank, have a nice Christ- 

NAR. And Fd like to tell you the begger married 

the lady and they lived happley ever after. 


When Johnnie Choate was nine years old he was 
given a writing assignment at school He was told to 
read the old English ballad, Lord Ullins Daughter, 
and then to tell the story in his own words. Let us first 
have a look at what Johnnie wrote: 

"Sandy" called Lord Ullin, Bring My daughter to 
me". Yes Sire said Sandy. "Come come my daughter 
I will take you to a castle wich we mite by. "O father 
you are always beying things, wy don't you think of 
the poor for a change/' 

"O phhooy to the poor they should earn there money 
instead of beging for it." 

"Father your so very crule. 

"Why daughter you speak souch bad talk" 

"It is very right what I ,say and speachy you saying 

[ 75 1 

boo to the poor. Why you ought to be a shamed of 
your shelf. Im going to run away. 

That is as far as Johnnie went with it, and I don't 
know what his teacher said if he turned it in to her. 
Right at the beginning, however, there is one small 
matter to be cleared up that word "speachy." After 
much soul-searching I came to the conclusion that 
Johnnie meant "specially" and his mother verified this. 

Now, as to the original ballad I was not ac- 
quainted with it and had to do some digging in the 
public library, where I found it and read it. One thing 
is certain Johnnie didn't copy anything verbatim. In 
the Campbell ballad Lord Ullin's daughter and the 
chief of Ulva's Isle are eloping and have been on the 
road for three days, pursued by Lord Ullin and his 
men. They have arrived at Lochgyle, and they plead 
with the ferryman to row them across, and he agrees, 
and Lord Ullin arrives on the shore just in time to see 
the boat capsize and his daughter drown. That's all 
there is to it. Nobody named Sandy. No talk about 
castles to by. No phhooy to the poor. No daughter 
speaking souch bad talk. In fact, it appears to me that 
Johnnie was deeply dissatisfied with the whole plot as 
set forth by Campbell, even the elopment part. Having 
real old Campbell's version, I must confess that I'm in 

The most famous work of juvenilia in modern times 
is The Young Visiters by Daisy Ashford. This stirring 
and romantic novel was written about 1900 by a nine- 
year-old English girl, using a pencil and a cheap note- 
book. When it was finally published it carried a lauda- 
tory preface by James M. Barrie. It created quite a sen- 
sation and it was so funny, so expertly contrived, that 
some critics charged Barrie with writing it himself. Its 
authenticity was soon established; and the last I heard 
its author, now Mrs. James Devlin, was living on a 
farm near Norwich. She is still collecting royalties from 
Ber childhood work (a handsome new edition of The 
Young Visiters was published by Doubleday & Com- 
pany in 1951, illustrated by William Pene du Bois). It 
has had a continuing popularity, I think, because it 
mirrors so accurately the attitudinizing of the adult 
English world in the time of a somewhat mildewed 

The book tells the story of Mr. Salteena, Ethel 
Monticue, and Bernard Clark. To put it briefly, Mr. 
Salteena was in love with Ethel, but he had high social 
ambitions and when he went off to pursue them, he 
left Ethel in the care of his friend Bernard Clark. We 
have space here for only two passages. The first of 
these tells of the arrival of Mr. Salteena and Ethel at 
the residence of Bernard. 

[ 77 ] 


When they had unpacked Mr Salteena and Ethel 
went downstairs to dinner. Mr. Salteena had put on a 
compleat evening suit as he thought it was the correct 
idear and some ruby studs he had got at a sale. Ethel 
had on a dress of yellaw silk covered with tulle which 
was quite in the fashion and she had on a necklace 
which Mr Salteena gave her for a birthday present. She 
looked very becomeing and pretty and Bernard heaved 
a sigh as he gave her his arm to go into dinner. The 
butler Minnit was quite ready for the fray standing up 
very stiff and surrounded by two footmen in green 
plush and curly white wigs who were called Charles and 

Well said Mr Salteena lapping up his turtle soup 
you have a very sumpshous house Bernard. 

His friend gave a weary smile and swallowed a few 
drops of sherry wine. It is fairly decent he replied with 
a bashful glance at Ethel after our repast I will show 
you over the premisis. 

Many thanks said Mr Salteena getting rarther flus- 
tered with his forks. 

You ourght to give a ball remarked Ethel you have 
such large compartments. 

Yes there is room enough sighed Bernard we might 
try a few steps and meanwhile I might get to know a 
few peaple. 

So you might responded Ethel giving him a speaking 

Mr Salteena was growing a little peevish but he 
cheered up when the Port wine came on the table and 

[ 78 3 

the butler put round some costly finger bowls. He did 
not have any in his own house and he followed Bernard 
Clark's advice as to what to do with them. After dinner 
Ethel played some merry tunes on the piano and Ber- 
nard responded with a rarther loud song in a base voice 
and Ethel clapped him a good deall. Then Mr Salteena 
asked a few riddles as he was not musicle. Then Ber- 
nard said shall I show you over my domain and they 
strolled into the gloomy hall. 

I see you have a lot of ancesters said Mr Salteena in 
a jelous tone, who are they. 

Well said Bernard they are all quite correct. This is 
my aunt Caroline she was rarther exentrick and quite 

So I see said Mr Salteena and he passed on to a lady 
with a very tight waist and quearly shaped. That is 
Mary Ann Fudge my grandmother I think said Bernard 
she was very well known in her day. 

Why asked Ethel who was rarther curious by nature. 

Well I dont quite know said Bernard but she was and 
he moved away ta the next picture. It was of a man 
with a fat smiley face and a red ribbon round him and 
a lot of medals. My great uncle Ambrose Fudge said 
Bernard carelessly. 

He looks a thourough ancester said Ethel kindly. 

Well he was said Bernard in a proud tone he was 
really the Sinister son of Queen Victoria. 

Not really cried Ethel in excited tones but what does 
that mean. 

Well I dont quite know said Bernard Clark it puzzles 
me very much but ancesters do turn quear at times. 

[ 79 1 

The story buzzes along rarther briskly, and Ethel ar- 
rives at the point where she has to tell Mr Salteena 
she doesn't love him. 

This is agony cried Mr Salteena clutching hold of a 
table my life will be sour grapes and ashes without you. 

Thus the stage is set for one of the great romantic 
passages of English literature, the chapter titled "A 
Proposale," which follows: 

Next morning while imbibing his morning tea be- 
neath his pink silken quilt Bernard decided he must 
marry Ethel with no more delay. I love the girl he said 
to himself and she must be mine but I somehow feel 
I can not propose in London it would not be seemly 
in the city of London. We must go for a day in the 
country and when surrounded by the gay twittering of 
the birds and the smell of the cows I will lay rny suit 
at her feet and he waved his arm wildly at the gay 
thought. Then he sprang from bed and gave a rat tat 
at Ethels door. 

Are you up my dear he called. 

Well not quite said Ethel hastilly jumping from her 
downy nest. 

Be quick cried Bernard I have a plan to spend a day 
near Windsor Castle and we will take our lunch and 
spend a happy day. 

Oh Hurrah shouted Ethel I shall soon be ready as I 
had my bath last night so wont wash very much now. 

No dont said Bernard and added in a rarther fervent 

t 8 ] 

tone through the chink of the door you are fresher than 
the rose my dear no soap could make you fairer. 

Then he dashed off very emharrased to dress. Ethel 
blushed and felt a bit excited as she heard the words 
and she put on a new white muslin dress in a fit of 
high spirits. She looked very beautifull with some red 
roses in her hat and the dainty red ruge in her cheeks 
looked quite the thing. Bernard heaved a sigh and his 
eyes flashed as he beheld her and Ethel thorght to her- 
self what a fine type of manhood he reprisented with 
his nice thin legs in pale broun trousers and well fitting 
spats and a red rose in his button hole and rarther a 
sporting cap which gave him a great air with its quaint 
check and little flaps to pull down if necessary. Off they 
started the envy of all the waiters. 

They arrived at Windsor very hot from the jorney 
and Bernard at once hired a boat to row his beloved up 
the river. Ethel could not row but she much enjoyed 
seeing the tough sunburnt arms of Bernard tugging at 
the oars as she lay among the rich cushons of the dainty 
boat. She had a rarther lazy nature but Bernard did not 
know of this. However he soon got dog tired and 
sugested lunch by the mossy bank. 

Oh yes said Ethel quickly opening the sparkling 

Dont spill any cried Bernard as he carved some 

They eat and drank deeply of the charming viands 
ending up with merangs and choclates. 

Let us now bask under the spreading trees said Ber- 
nard in a passiunate tone. 

Oh yes lets said Ethel and she opened her dainty 

[ 81 ] 

parasole and sank down upon the long green grass. She 
closed her eyes but she was far from asleep. Bernard 
sat beside her in profound silence gazing at her pink 
face and long wavy eye lashes. He puffed at his pipe 
for some moments while the larks gaily caroled in the 
blue sky. Then he edged a trifle closer to Ethels form. 

Ethel he murmured in a trembly voice. 

Oh what is it said Ethel hastily sitting up. 

Words fail me ejaculated Bernard horsly my passion 
for you is intense he added fervently. It has grown day 
and night since I first beheld you, 

Oh said Ethel in supprise I am not prepared for this 
and she lent back against the trunk of the tree. 

Bernard placed one arm tightly round her. When 
will you marry me Ethel he uttered you must be my 
wife it has come to that I love you so intensely that if 
you say no I shall perforce dash my body to the brink 
of yon muddy river he panted wildly. 

Oh dont do that implored Ethel breathing rarther 

Then say you love me he cried. 

Oh Bernard she sighed fervently I certinly love you 
madly you are to me like a Heathen god she cried look- 
ing at his manly form and handsome flashing face I will 
indeed marry you. 

How soon gasped Bernard gazing at her intensly. 

As soon as possible said Ethel gently closing her 

My Darling whispered Bernard and he seiezed her 
in his arms we will be marrid next week. 

Oh Bernard muttered Ethel this is so sudden. 

No no cried Bernard and taking the bull by both 

horns he kissed her violently on her dainty face. My 
bride to be he murmered several times. 

Ethel trembled with joy as she heard the mistick 

Oh Bernard she said little did I ever dream of such 
as this and she suddenly fainted into his out stretched 

Oh I say gasped Bernard and laying the dainty bur- 
den on the grass he dashed to the waters edge and 
got a cup full of the fragrant river to pour on his true 
loves pallid brow. 

She soon came to and looked up with a sickly smile 
Take me back to the Gaierty hotel she whispered 

With plesure my darling said Bernard I will just 
pack up our viands ere I unloose the boat. 

Ethel felt better after a few drops of champagne and 
began to tidy her hair while Bernard packed the re- 
mains of the food. Then arm in arm they tottered to 
the boat. 

I trust you have not got an illness my darling mur- 
mured Bernard as he helped her in. 

Oh no I am very strong said Ethel I fainted from 
joy she added to explain matters. 

Oh I see said Bernard handing her a cushon well 
some people do he added kindly and so saying they 
rowed down the dark stream now flowing silently be- 
neath a golden moon. All was silent as the lovers glided 
home with joy in their hearts and radiunce on their 
faces only the sound of the mystearious water lapping 
against the frail vessel broke the monotony of the night. 

So I will end my chapter. 

Maxine Morris tells of the time her grandchildren 
came for Thanksgiving Day, bringing along the toy 
printing set that had just been given to Robbie, age 
seven. Robbie was in a quandary: he had a printing 
set and he couldn't think of anything to print! So 
Maxine suggested that he do the place cards for the 
twelve people who would be present for Thanksgiving 
dinner. It then became necessary for her to explain at 
some length the nature and function of place cards, 
and after that Robbie retired to another room and 
went to work. He was a long time at the job and the 
table had been set when he finally finished, so he dis- 
tributed the cards at the places. When Maxine came 
to inspect his work, she found that each card bore the 
same word: YOU. 

The wife of a leading New York movie critic came 
home late one afternoon and was greeted by the cook 
with this: "I didn't let nobody dig because nobody 
come to dig/' Confusion reigned. Then the cook 
brought forth a note which had been written by the 
young son of the house and placed on die kitchen 
table. It said: 


if any one comes and says he wants to dig on are 
property tell them no. if they do dig call at this number 

. REMEMBER dont let them talk you into it 
not even if they say they have per mission 


Nobody came to dig because nobody had been 
asked to come to dig, and nobody had threatened that 
they were coming to dig. Jeff just made the whole 
thing up. Without per mission. 

The "Trade Winds" department of the Saturday Re- 
view recently published a book criticism written by a 
boy in Toledo, Ohio. The book was titled Street Rod 
and the Toledo lad sent his review to the publisher, 
Bantam Books. It follows: 

I have just read your book "Street Rod/ 7 1 just think 
the book is horrible. Oh sure it was okay at the begin- 
ning but it was pretty darn lousy at the end. Link 
slaughtered Ric in two fights and beat him in every 
drag race. I guess you expect Ricky to sit around suck- 
ing his thumb. He did what I or any other decent man 
would have done he fought back. I am 12 years old 
which you may not think as very much but I think IVe 
got a right to make a complaint if I have one. Ricky 
worked hard and won the trophy but what about all 
the nagging he took when he started the DTA club and 
couldn't go redding with the other guys. 

Instead of getting payed back some way Ricky gets 
killed in his own dream car. Including his girl friend. 

[ 85 1 

Oh yeah you're thinking well he was a show-off when 
he first got his rod. You may be thinking "well it's only 
a story." Go ahead say its just a story but how would 
you like to dream about cars all your life then get 
killed in your "dream rod" while racing a jerk that had 
been pestering you ever since you had gotten your rod? 

At this point I would like to make a brief comment 
on people who suffer from a virulent affliction, Editor's 
Head, or Blue Pencilillin. There is something inside 
most people, a small gland in the left cheek, rear, 
which gives those people the urge to correct manu- 
scripts. The above book review surely was not com- 
posed exactly as it appears here. The Toledo boy sent 
it to Bantam Books where, no doubt, it passed through 
several hands. Then it was shoved along to the Satur- 
day Review and the people who do "Trade Winds." 
Somebody along the way, perhaps several somebodies, 
couldn't keep clumsy hands off of it. They corrected 
it. In the last few years I have been dealing with hun- 
dreds and hundreds of manuscripts and letters and 
notes composed by young children, many of them in 
the twelve-year-old bracket. I say that the Toledo boy 
could not have written those two long paragraphs with- 
out several misspellings. I doubt very much if he put 
the apostrophe in "IVe" and "it's/ 7 1 doubt very much 
if he put a hyphen in "show-off/' I doubt very much 

[ 86 ] 

if he used quotation marks around "Street Rod" and 
"dream rod" and "well it's only a story." Some twerp 
undergoing a seizure of Editor's Head at Bantam or 
at the Saturday Review did those things. In so doing, 
they took away a great deal of the charm of the boy's 
little essay. It happens that in many cases I have had a 
chance to examine compositions by school children as 
they were actually scribbled on the paper; and then 
I've seen them after the teacher got through correcting 
them. In every case the editing destroyed the intrinsic 
merit of the writing. In some cases a classic disap- 
peared. As long as we are talking about sending people 
to the moon, let us be sensible about it. Let us send 

Mrs. Maurine C. Grau tells me that when she was a 
teacher an eighth-grader did a magnificent summary of 
the Arthurian legend in verse, as follows: 

There was a young Knight 

Named Lancelot 
He loved Queen Gwinevere 

An Awful lot. 

King Arthur got wise and said 
"Listen you guys, 

Somebody's going to get shot." 

When Gassy Espy was much younger than she is 
today, she decided to organize her affairs, to lead an 
orderly existence. To this end she went in for single- 
entry bookkeeping so that she might always "know 
where she stood financially. Her mother has passed 
along a page from Cassy's account book, as follows: 

Candy 3 

gum 5 

ribben 15 

All toll 23 

The mother of little Martha Driggs, of Easton, 
Pennsylvania, has searched high and low without find- 
ing a short story written by Martha which, I feel 
sure, would have been worth publishing here. All Mrs. 
Driggs can remember about it is the title: MER- 

One spring afternoon when she was about seven, 
Mona Espy was sitting in the yard when a sudden 
surge of religious feeling hit her. She hurried into the 
house, got pencil and paper, and wrote as follows: 

I Love you God I Love you so much that I wish that 
I was in the aire. to god. by mona. 

Paul Nathan, who writes for Publishers Weekly, 
served as one of the judges in a sixth-grade essay con- 
test. All of the children wrote on the subject "Cour- 
tesy, the Art of Being Nice/' and Mr. Nathan's favor- 
ite though not the winner was this one: 

Courtesy can help us mentally, for it leaves us with a 
free conchonce & a happy soul. Courtesy has helped us 
win wars. Suppose the U. S. is being beaten in a war of 
missies by Russia. Briton chimes in & we soon beat 
Russia. They did this kind deed for they knew we could 
help them too. 

Courtesy can save money & lives too. Imagine that 
Ichabod is driving in the suburbs of a large establish- 
ment. Having smoked a cigar, he flicks it out the win- 
dow. Ichabod's cigar started a gigantic fire which 
claimed 3,000,000 lives & just as many dollars damage. 
By the way, Ichabod's children were killed. He could 
have stopped this disaster by simply putting the cigar 
in the ashtray. 

Another example . . . Say King Joe is visiting Mon- 
golia. On his way he falls of a cliff, a phesant found 
him & cured him. In return, the king made the phesant 
a high official in his court. Also there is the story of the 
thorn in the lions paw & the boy gets it out so the lion 
repays him with his life. Courtesy Pays!!!! 

A Connecticut couple, owning a pair of girl twins 
aged eight and named Carol and Clara, allowed the 

children to spend a week end at the country residence 
of a couple who had no offspring. Clara appointed her- 
self official chronicler of the expedition and later pre- 
sented the following report to her parents: 

Mr. Fitzpatrick is deiting he wants to get skinny and 
look young, Carol gave me an Indin burn and I give 
her one back. They have an orgen and we practised on 
it it's easier than the piano. I would practice much on 
the orgen if we had one. They told us to look at the 
litning bugs and we did but we have litening bugs in 
Greenich but we dont look out. Mr. Fizpatrick has a 
big gardon with corn but the corn is not as tall as our 
corn and dont grow as fast as our corn. They met in 
Masschuses Carol ask mr. Fizpatrick who proposed to 
who and he said mrs. Fizpatrick proposd to him but 
mrs. fizpatrick said he was a fibre and dont believe a 
word he says. They drunk ten cans of beer. They have 
2 bird f eders but not as nice as ours and the skwerels get 
on them. 

The following short story was written by an eleven- 
year-old girl who lives in Sewickley, Pennsylvania: 


(Story of a worm 

by Bonnie Roberts) 

Slimy was resting on his favorite stone of mosquito 
larve. He was thinking about the terrible tragedy of 55" 
when his cousin had been chopped in half by a mon- 

[ 90 ] 

strious hoe. Killed! "Poor old Jud", Slimy was saying to 
himself when suddenly the earth shook the roots that 
held the very foundations of his home. A clump of earth 
was turned over. Eger hands reached out and grabbed 
Slimy around the middle. This was the terrible fate that 
his parents had continualy warmed him about. Finally 
the hands opened dropping the frightened worm into a 
large box with damp sod in it. Slimy quickly wriggled 
down into the dirt and was surprised to find that he was 
not alone. Several other worms, a few of which he knew, 
were there also, all talking at once. "My dears/' ex- 
claimed an especially fat old lady worm, "did you ever 
see anything like it? The way he dumped us into this 
cage! It's outrageous I tell you, outrageous/ 7 

Slimy crawled around looking for a way to escape. 
Finding none he turned sadly back to the others, paus- 
ing for a moment to talk to a pinchbug, who had found 
himself in the same predicament. Slimy listened to the 
moaning of the other worms and suddenly had an idea. 
He rushed back to the pinchbug and found him sharp- 
ening his pincers on a bit of stone. "A splendid idea," 
said the pinchbug after he had heard Sliniy's plan. He 
ambled over to the edge of the box and began drilling 
a hole large enough for himself and the other worms to 
go through. Just as he had finished, the terrible human 
saw the hole and patched it up with a piece of tape. 
Suddenly they all felt a jar and the box was lifted. As it 
was set down a large hole was ripped in the soggy card- 
board bottom. Unaware of this the human kept on at 
his digging. "Now's our chance" thot Slimy. He called to 
the others to come. They followed him silently deep 
into the ground and out of reach of human hands. The 

[ 9* ] 

worms and the pinchbug thanked him again and again. 
He was their hero, and they put his bust in the Worm 
Hall of Fame next to Joe de Maggot. 

When Jackie Pearson, of Silver Spring, Maryland, 
was five years old she concluded that she had seen 
enough of life and the world to produce an autobiog- 
raphy. This is the way she dictated it: 


Once upon a time there was a little girl and she al- 
ways went to a corner every day and saw a policeman 
named Jack. And that policeman was Irish and he was 
crazy of a little girl. And this little girl's name was 
Jackie. And she went on to kindergarten by herself. And 
then she went to nursery school. She ate lunch and took 
a rest and then her mother came and got her. And then 
they went home and ate dinner. And then her mother 
put her to bed. And the next day the same thing over 
again. That' s all. 

Mrs. Mamie H. Carter of Troy, Alabama, has sent 
me a book, excitingly illustrated in color, the work of a 
little girl named Josephine Blumentritt. The text fol- 

(Dedicated to Maimie who is sick in bed) 
Once upon a time there lived a little calf named 

She really was very sweet. She lived out in the west 
where a lot of little calfs just like her lived. They wernt 
just like her though becouse she was a thourbred calf. 
She had a beautiful mother named Elena Maria Elexis 
of Greendale. Her mother was a very famous champion. 
She had a solid gold bell around her neck. She won it 
in a show. Here is her father. His name is "Sir Lancerlot 
Alexis of Greedale Farms/ 7 

She was very sad because she hated to do everything 
she had to. 

She would have loved to eat the nice green grass like 
other little calfs did . . . but insted she had to stand 
in a stall all day and eat nice fresh hay with vitamins in 
it and sacks of specially mixed feed. Poor poor Sweet- 

She would have loved to drink the cool water from 
the stream in the woods like other calves did but insted 
. . . she had to drink water that was colored. The 
colour was supposed to help her grow. Poor poor Sweet- 

She would have loved to roll over and over in the dust 
but insted . . . her straw was changed every one hour 
and she was brushed and her tail put in curlors every 
three hours. Poor poor Sweetness. 

One day a friend of hers (a old bull) came walking 
down by her stall (being led of course) . 

Where are you going asked Sweetness? 

Oh I am going to the slaughter house everybody'll go 
there before long. 

Ohhh answered Sweetness. 

A year later a man came and started to put on a hal- 
ter Sweetness was very sad because now she would have 

[ 93 ] 

to die in the slaughter house. The man was very happy. 

But insted of going to anything like a slaughter house 
she went out in a yard with a very handsome bull. 

So she spent the day with him and at night she went 

Three months later Sweetness her name was now 
Maria Sweetness of Greendale had a sweet baby calf 
and she named it Mary. 

P.S. Sweetness was very happy that her child could 
have everything that she wanted. So that Mary grew up 
to be a very beautiful cow. Here is Mary's picture (with 
her calf when she grew up ) . 


Mrs. Cora McLain, a teacher on Long Island, sends 
me a brief essay by a six-year-old girl reporting on her 
first airplane trip: 

The plane was silver the stewdess on the plane served 
us are dinner and daddy and mamma wiskey. She is 
beautifel and wore a blew dress and little lite blew cap 
and a nice figuer. She said we are over Pitsberg if you 
want to look out. They had emergency exis if you are 
recked and also little bags to throw up in. The desert 
was apple pie with chese. 

A sixth-grade history teacher in Illinois was instruct- 
ing her pupils in the life and times of Alfred the Great. 
The textbook they were using included the legend of 

[ 94 1 

the cakes. King Alfred, fleeing after his defeat at Chip- 
penham, took refuge in a peasant's hut. The house- 
wife, not recognizing him in his rags, put him to 
watching some cakes that were baking by the fire. He 
was so absorbed in his meditations that he allowed the 
cakes to burn and was scolded as an idle and useless 

There was one boy in the class who was so impressed 
by this story that he could remember nothing else 
about Alfred the Great. So when the time came for 
the children to write essays on the subject of Alfred, 
the teacher said: "Now please don't put down the 
story of Alfred and the cakes I'm tired of hearing 
about it." A short while later the boy turned in his 
paper. His essay: 

One day when Alfred the Great was wandering about 
the country side, he stopped at the house of a certin 
lady, but the lease said about that the better. 

On assignment a child in the famous Little Red 
School House in New York City turned in the fol- 


First of all ? I want a horse to ride on, with a fancy 
outfit besides a saddle and bridle. Then I want to be a 
famous TV actress so when I come off the stage I will 
receive boquets. I want a duplex on Park Avenue with 
ten kittens in it. 

[ 95 ] 

In 1957 the PAL News, published by the famous 
Police Athletic League of New York City, sponsored 
an essay contest in conjunction with the National 
Book Committee. PAL children of all ages partici- 
pated, writing brief pieces on the subject, Why I Like 
to Read Books. 

Through the courtesy of Miss Joy Chute I was per- 
mitted to go through several hundred of these essays. 
It turned out to be an exhilarating and even inspiring 
experience for a person who writes books himself. 
Why do children read books? One wrote, "Reading is 
a good exersise for the eyes/' Another mentioned his 
ambitions: "I want to be one of Two Things. Be the 
head of my own orphanize or write books. The person 
who thought of books made a great step for the 

One boy said that if you read books "you can go 
with Bufflo Bill as he chases Bufflo." Another that "you 
can learn all about God and Bugs Bunny/' A third 
observed, "Some of the stories show interesting word 
like murder and dead." 

A girl said she enjoyed books because they taught 
her about "the launcheing of the Russian Satelite 
(sputniek) by the Russian/' And a boy gave a forth- 
right, beautiful reason for reading: "Books teach you 

[ 96 ] 

to be a good reader and it is very good to be a good 
reader because then you can read the mail/' 

I should like to mention one fact that stands out in 
the PAL papers: children are not able to spell Huckle- 
berry Finn's name correctly. I find it spelled Hukey 
Berry Fin, Hutchelbary Fin and Hucelberry fin. And 
among the other titles mentioned in the essays are 
Robbison Carino, Kid Carson, Davy Crokeet, Poem 
by Luis Carol, Alice of Wonder Lam, Gunns of Mon- 
tania and the Legened of Sleepey Hello. 

In the section that follows are the PAL essays which 
I found most interesting. 

Reading is very important because if you dont know 
how to read you dont know anything like if you wanted 
to wash the dishes and you wanted to use a denser and 
there where two cans you woulden know which one to 
use. Books teaches you more. 

The best way to obtain knowledge is by reading 
books. Many books are most interestion, there are many 
books obtaning auto and biography stories of very im- 
portant and interesting people, such as Ben Franklin a 
great inventor, and Abrahan Lincoln the sixth teenth of 
the United State, and freed the slaves, and was called 
the "Peac Macker." Books cotain knowledge that is im- 
portant for school work and social life. 

The most interesting book that I have read is called 

[ 97 1 

"Marco Polo's Adventures/ 7 It tells of the trip that 
Marco Polo took to see Ku Klux Klan. It also tells of 
the adventures during his stay in Japan and the Ori- 
edent. When Marco Polo visited Ku Klux Klan he was 
welcomed by the people of Japan. Towards to end of 
the book Marco Polo had made a friend of Ku Klux 
Klan and he succeedded in making Japan open to the 
new world. Don't you think that if you read this book 
you would say it was interesting and educational? That 
is why I like to read books. Don't you? 

I like reading because it is interesing and it is as 
beautiful pictures and name of people you learn about 
in shool. And it help you know your reading. And it is 
a intresing book if you pick out the right one. We read 
our book at the liebery or bring them home. You get 
your card at the liebery. 

Murder are the best for grownups. The author of 
books learn to get to right books by reading them. I 
don't like to be and author of a book but when maybe 
you get good at something they may ask you something 
about it. 

I like to read books of interesting animals like bears 
dears foxs elephant birds lions and tigers and other in- 
teresting thing and some day i'll go hunting for these 
animals to. 

Through my reading experients I have met and made 
a great many new friends. I have fought side by side 
with the There Musketeers. I sailed down the Missippie 
with Hucelberry fin. I lived and loved with Lincoln. I 
have experienced many gay times through reading but 
I have also fealt sad. 

[ 98 ] 

The reason I like to read books is because books have 
helped me in school very much but thats not the only 
thing. Books is a help to boys and girls when they have 
nothing else to do. Books have helped me a lot in these 
things writing diffrent kinds of stories, history, coumetty 
work, group reporting and poems. But there's more than 
one kind of book. There is a Comic Book. I like comic 
books very much they are very funny books. But there 
are comic books that are not funny. These books are 
only spooky, horror, that's only some of them kind of 
books, but here is another kind robbing, killing, fight- 
ing, shooting, baseball, football, horseracing, trackrun- 
ning, and basketball. And there is another kind of ex- 
lent book Readers Digest. Now that kind of book we 
get in school every mounth. 

Think about this questions? Does reading a lot im- 
prove your reading skills? Does reading help you 
prounce words? 

I use to go to a special reading class two years ago. At 
first I didn't like reading but know I love to read. In 
reading class I learnt how to prounce my words. When 
I read a books like Schlock Homes, Mark Saber, and 
etc. I know something on their field of work. I like to 
read comic books more then any other kind of books. 

I like to read books because it is a fine past time and 
on a rainy day and I am not allowed out all I have to 
do is to get a book that I think I will enjoy and set down 
and read it. Books can also help you in your studys for 
instance if you don't know the meaning of a word all 
you have to do is to look up the Dictionary and find the 
correct meaning of the word your stuck on. realy a per- 

[ 99 1 

son that is interrested in books is not a book worm like 
people say and the truth is anybody that is interrested 
in books is always smart Because there is more knowl- 
edge in one book than there is in five people. 

One day I was talking to my farther about a certain 
book the Bewitched Caverns. My father told me to go 
to the libary and to ask the liberian where to find it. 
When I did find it the first couple of pages were very 
good. But the kind of name the cave men had such 
name as olo, Pigeon, and snake-head. Olo fell off a cliff 
he thoght it was the evil spirits that had trip him but it 
realy was a vine. When he was falling sharp things were 
sticking into him. When he reached the bottom he was 
onconscience. A girl named pigeon had saw him fall she 
ran over to him to see if he was dead or alive. He was 
still alive she got a piece of rage and wet it she put it on 
his forehead. And he regained conscience. He was very 
dizzy from the fall he walked to her cave were she was 
living. And they lived happly everaf ter. 

Dictionaries, Encyclopedias and many more books 
give information. Telephone books give information. 
We usually get our fun out of comic books. Older peo- 
ple get thiers out of dramas. There are even books to 
tell you how to write books. There are books for all ages 
including babies. There are books that have pomes, 
rymes, riddles, jokes, and etc. Books have words that ex- 
press the real meaning of the story. Good books are 
easy to understand if the author knows what he is 
writing. Why don't you just pick up a pencil and paper 
and start writing a book. 

[ 100 ] 

Some books tell of jungel men exploring the African 
jungle and of all the adventure and dangerous acts they 
do while setting traps for diffrent animals so people in 
the city can see them in the zoo. 

While other books contain something like a big 
smart brain that nows much about everything, for ex- 
ample the very smart Encyclopedia in which you can 
find about diffrent words or things in the world. Much 
information is kept in these books from men who have 
studded much to write them. 

Other books are funny and ful of enjoyment. For it 
tells of rediculas characters which play the part in a 
makebelieve land. Especaly ferry tails. They tell of 
diffrent people wich go on voyages and have ship recks 
and enter strange lands in which animls talk and live 
like people. But it always ends with the people leaving 
the lands of makebelieve and telling the tails to their 

Books, Books,. Books. That's all you can hear in school 
but when you grow up you'll be thankful you had the 

I like to read Books about the Saints And thir way of 
life. Did you ever Hear of St Terase of Avla. she was the 
Saint who liked to read. I like to know theas little facts 
about the Saints. Because if I ever Get sick I can think 
about the book I have read. 

Thease are some of the interesting Facts I learned 
about Saint Terase she liked to read book about the 
Saints. At the age of twenty Terase entared the Car- 
melite Convent. When she was older she wrote her own 
life the Pater Noster and the interior Castle. When she 

was dying she said "O my Lord now the time for us to 
see you" her feast day Oct fifteenth. 

Reading books is one of my favorit subjects. By read- 
Ing you can learn Many things, forinstins all about His- 
tory and Geography and many more subjects. Moust of 
the world's smartist men and weman lern by reading 
books. I myself aren't that type. I like to read faritalls 
and books about the old days. But one of my favorits 
are books about famous men in basball. all these men 
like Babe Ruth, Tie Cobe and other famous men are 
put into books so many people can read about them. 

When Christopher Allen Goodfellow of Detroit 
was five years old he announced to his mother that the 
Muse in Charge of Cowboy Composition had touched 
him and that he wanted to dictate a story. This is pre- 
cisely how it went: 

She saves me from a terrible trap. It is a hole in the 
ground with brush piled on top. Then when I get out 
of the trap I see bad men trailing the stage coach. We 
go to stop them. After we get them we bring them to 
the sheriff. Then we find the others. They are in their 
deadly own shack. When we get there we put our 
horses up to the corral, then we go in. Laura doesn't 
because she isn't strong enough. 

They get us before we get them. We happen to be 
magic and we raise our hands down but the bad men 

[ 102 ] 

can't see our arms go down or our guns. Then we bring 
our sheriff. (They happen to have a telephone in the 
shack) . 

The Public Field Librarian for a large Eastern state 
is a young woman who holds a Master's Degree in Li- 
brary Science. She doesn't know it but her mother has 
sent me a bit of her literary work, produced in a school 
competition when she was eight years old. It is note- 
worthy because of the rhyming scheme, and it follows: 

Carmel candy, carmel candy! 
It sure is fine and dandy! 

It's pritty and neet, 

It sticks to your teet, 
Carmel candy, carmel candy! 
I always have it handy. 

The presence of a typewriter in a home almost al- 
ways brings out the creative urge in children. Usually 
they are content to produce a few lines or a few pages 
of nonsense, but not Mona Espy. Once she got the 
hang of her mother's typewriter, she went right to 
work composing her first novel. By good fortune I 
have the complete manuscript, and here it is: 


Molly-lou jumped out of bed something filled her 
mined what was it? oh she cried now I rember I am 
going to dance the ballet number in the school aut- 
torem. TOday Mollylou was 18-years old. she grabbed 
her pink robe with blue lineing and her pink slippers. 
Mollylou softley tiptoed down stairs because she knew 
that her mother and father were still asleep it was so 
early, when she got down she saw there cook Rosley 
Brown. Hello there Rose she cried I am .... hello 
honey said Roseley looking up from doing some mix- 
ture for pancakes. What are you so exited about? oh 
Rosley don,t YOU KNOW? I .... my own SELF 
is going to dance in school. Please may I get my own 
breakfast? why of corse dear your not a baby are you? 
your 18 today arn,t you? okey Rosley 1,11 get some 
cerel. . . Mollylou was a pretty sort of girl ..... she 
had black hair it was long but yet not to long, it was 
about 5 inches below her sholders she had a dark 
complecshon and brown eyes she wore dark litish lip- 
stick. Mollylou was a sweet girl yes very sweet indeed. 
she heard Mothers sweet voise coming from outside 
the door. Molly darling could you come here for a min- 
uite?? yes Mother exuse me for a second Rosley I'll be 
right back. Molly darling I'm so sorry your Father fell 
down on one of the slippery rugs and I think he has 
broken his leg. oh oh oh Mollylou cried I'll call a 
doctor. No Molly dear what I'm worried about is you. 
no Mother please I don't care about ME all I care 
about is Father's broken leg I don't care if I don't get 
to dance in the college school, that's a very thoutful 
girl Molly darling of course you may. 

10 4 


Father Mollylou asked the next day how do you 
feel? fine especially with you here said Father, oh 
Father your onley fooling Mollylou said, oh no Molly 
I'm not fooling he said, you were very kind and thout- 
ful to stay home and not do that pretty dance of yours, 
oh ho oh ho Molly cried you think that I can dance 
prettyily??? Molly Father asked a few minuits later. 
.... don't you want to help Mother with the dishes? 
O. K. Father you rest back for 20 minuites like a good 
boy said Mollylou. Hi Mother Mollylou said as she en- 
tered the kitcen. oh hello darling Mother said looking 
toward the door. Mother I told Father to rest for 20 
minuites. now I want to help you do the dishes, thank 
you Molly said Mother. 30 minuites later Mollylou 
and Mother were finished. Molly tiptoed around to 
Father's room and went softley into it. there was 
Father asleep. Mother Fathers asleep said Marylou 
when she had tiptoed into the livingroom where 
Mother was looking at collers magizine. thats good she 
said smiling at Mollylou. oh I forgot to tell you she 
cried happily looking up a few minuites later, you got 
a letter from college saying that they didn't have the 
dance on a count that it was to hot. they are going to 
have it in a week, oh Mother wonderful Mollylou 
shouted how wonderful, a hour later Mollylou crept 
into her Fathers room and she saw that her Father was 
sitting up in bed reading a book, hi Father she cried 
want to hear some good news? why Mollylou said 
Father what is it? Dad I still am going to dance the 
ballay dance, how do you feel? just fine the pain is 
complety gone. I'm so glad your going to dance again. 

[ 105 ] 


On monday a week later Molly was dressed up in her 
bailey costume, there was her Father standing up put- 
ting his necktie on. hi honey he shouted Fm all better 
see??? he stamped his foot down to show her that it 
did not hurt. Mollylou was greeted at college by a boy 
named Tom just like her Fathers name and that's 
what she liked about him. Tom she shouted hi there, 
hi sweet cakes he said. Tom stop calling me that name 

Mollylou said. I can't help it swee Tom STOP 

it she cried, gee I realy can't help it because you ARE 
just plain SWEET. 


There are several things that confuse me about the 
story of Mollylou. In CAPTER n, for example, we 
find that Mother has been opening Mollylou's per- 
sonal mail. If I know anything about girls (and I 
don't), that would have precipitated a knock-down- 
dragout fight, with Mollylou finally shouting: "I wish 
to God I had never been born into this insane family!" 
However, that is a small quibble. The overall tone of 
the story is what interests me. For a while I thought 
the author was registering her own personal protest 
against the Beat Generationish literature of today. 
Then I realized that this story had been composed be- 
fore the Beat Generation got beat; the story dates it- 
self by the fact that Mother is looking at collers maga- 
zine (although it could have been a real old issue of 

[ 106 ] 

collers). No the thing that is wrong is that the story 
is just too damn sweet, and Mollylou is just too accom- 
modating to everybody. Through a conference with 
the author's mother I think I found out the answer. 
The story was written two weeks before Christinas. 
And this brings us to a whole new field of juvenile 
literature: the highly moral and sometimes religious 
tale that is produced, at Christmastime, with what 
may be a deeply ulterior motive. 

The ten-year-old daughter of one of my neighbors 
turns into a wily conniver as Christmas approaches. 
Last year her craftiness took a literary bent. About two 
weeks before Christmas she produced a manuscript 
bordered with little stickers depicting angels in various 
angelic postures: 

Mary Parker could hardly wait till Christmas. It was 
a month away but still her mind was completley on 
Christmas. One cold morning on the first of December 
Mary was sitting on the hearth warming herself. She 
had just been out in the cold. She suddenly looked 
over at her father who was busy at his desk writing 
business letters. Daddy she said why is it that we never 
see angles? I don't know her father answered I guess 
it's because they prefer staying up in heaven and what 
makes you ask such a question? I don't know answered 
Mary, but I should like to see one. Her father looked 
at her in a puzzeld way. Then he said don't worry 

10 7 

about such things. He turned back to his work. Mary 
had grown tired of sitting still so she got up and ran 
into the kitchen where her mother was washing dishes. 
Hellow Mary Dear her mother said. Say if my ears 
are'nt betraying me I think I heard you and your 
father talking about angles. What brought that up? 
Oh I don't know Mom its just I've been thinking of 
Christmas so much lately. Her Mother hugged her. Its 
write around the corner honey she said but what made 
you say you would like to see one? Only because I 
would Mary asured her. 

There is a type of juvenile literature which some 
people might find exasperating but which fascinates 
me no end. I refer to the story which gets off to a good 
start and then comes to an abrupt ending, possibly be- 
cause the author is bored with it. I have accumulated 
many such stories, and they seem to be, almost always, 
the work of girls. Sometimes something happens to a 
girl author in the middle of a story (even in the middle 
of a sentence) and she just gets up and walks away 
from it. 

I would now like to present two such stories, from 
their original manuscripts. I don't know who wrote 
them. The first is: 

CHAPTER I The Fatefull Hours 
All was quite in the hospital waiting room. Only the 

[ 108 ] 

ocasional crackle of a newspaper page as it was being 
turned was heard. Jose Marcello slammed the maga- 
zine down the newspaper he had been trying despritly 
to concentrate on. He got up and walked over to the 
far side of the room where a young nurse stood chat- 
ting with an elderey woman, "Nurse" he said "How 
long do it take, any way? Why dont I hear something/ 7 
The nurse smiled at him. "Mr. Marcello" she said 
"This is undoubtedly the seventh time youve asked me 
that in the past hour. It takes a little time to have a 
baby Mr. Marcello. 

"All the time thats what I hear a little time/' the 
young mexican flashed his eyes angerily. The nurse 
laughed and shook her head. "Go sit down Mr. Mar- 
cello" she said "and try and relax. Hear now I'll get 
you a seditive." Jose stamped his foot. "Oh no" he 
said "I dont want no seditive." He turned abruply and 
strutted back across the floor. The nurse shook her 
head and went on talking to the other woman. 

It ends there. No baby. No seditive. No nothing. 
The second suspensef ul tale goes: 


Carol Parker sat on the porch of her little bundalow. 
She was sad and disturbed. Here it was Christmas Eve 
and the thermommeter said nindy degrees. There 
wasn't even a Florida breeze. She couldnt even imagine 
Santa Clause coming to this hot and dusty place. 
Carol was only six but knew now to ride a horse as 
well as a child of thirteen could. She walked over tword 

10 9 

the back door of the bundaloe. She looked over the end- 
less plains that rolled as far as her eye could see. Sud- 
denly tears formed in her eyes. She could see New 
York. She could see the millons of happy faces of peo- 
ple bustling in and out of stores with big packages and 
bundles. Just then she heard the clop clop of a horses 
feet as Daddy came riding up to her on the big stallion 
Sandy. Carol wiped the tears from her eyes but still a 
unhediable stain stayed around her eyes. Daddy lifted 
her up on the big stallion and then went in the house. 
She dident exactly know why but she wanted to get 
away from this house for 

That's the end. What do you think? Is she going to 
light out for New York and all those faces? How far is 
it to New York? It isn't clear to me whether she's in 
Florida or Wyoming. The story as it stands has a long 
way to go, but I'm happy that it got as far as it did, for 
it has taught me a new word which I'll never forget, 
namely, unhediable. Unhediable is an adjective and is 
generally applied to stains. Stains made by tears. On 
the face. Around the eyes. Of little girls. 

Knowing of my interest in juvenilia, the critic Gil- 
bert Highet once recommended that I examine the 
writings of Marjorie Fleming. "An absolute delight!" 
said Mr. Highet. Marjorie lived in Scotland a long 
time ago, and died before she was nine years old. 

[ no ] 

Robert Louis Stevenson called her "one of the noblest 
works of God." Sir Walter Scott all but worshiped her. 
And a hundred years after she died Mark Twain wrote 
a long appreciation of her, declaring that he had 
adored her for thirty-six years. 

Marjorie Fleming wrote diaries, poems and letters, 
and I must admit that they are marvelous; yet I con- 
tend that many of the modern young authors in this 
book, and in its predecessor, are just as good as the lass 
from the Firth of Forth. 

Among the passages which her admirers have talked 
about and written about are the following: 

I am now going to tell you about the horrible and 
wretched plaege that my multiplication gives me you 
cant concieve it the most Devilish thing is 8 times 
8 and 7 times 7 it is what nature itselfe cant endure. 

Miss Potune, a lady of my acquaintance, praises me 
dreadfully. I repeated something out of Deen Swift & 
she said I was fit for the stage, & you may think I was 
primmed up with majestick Pride, but upon my word 
I felt myself turn a little birsay birsay is a word 
which is a word that William composed which is as 
you may suppose a little enraged. This horrid fat 
Simpliton says that my Aunt is beautifull which is in- 
tirely impossible for that is not her nature . . . Miss 
Potune is very fat she pretends to be very learned she 
says she saw a stone that dropt from the skies, but she 
is a good Christian. 

In the love novels all the heroins are very desperate 
Isabella will not allow me to speak about lovers and 
heroins, and tiss too refined for my taste a loadstone is 
a curous thing indeed it is true Heroic love doth never 
win disgrace this is my maxum and I will follow it 

My own favorite Marjorie composition is a poem 
she wrote when she was visiting on a farm. Rats had 
killed three baby turkeys and the victims were memo- 
rialized as follows: 

Three turkeys fair their last have breathed 

And now this world forever leaved 

Their father, and their mother too 

They sighed and weep as well as you 

Indeed the rats their bones have cranched 

Into eternity theire launched 

A direful death indeed they had 

As wad put any parent mad 

But she was more than usual calm 

She did not give a single dam. 

Mark Twain called Marjorie "the bewitchingest 
speller and punctuator in all Christendom" and then 
wrote: "The average child of six 'prints' its corre- 
spondence in rickety and reeling Roman capitals, or 
dictates to mamma, who puts the little chap's message 
on paper. The sentences are labored, repetitious, and 
slow; there are but three or four of them; they deal in 

information solely, they contain no ideas, they venture 
no judgments, no opinions . . ." 

Old Mark Twain was very rarely wrong about any- 
thing, but this time I think he goofed; it is obvious 
that he never examined much of the writing of chil- 
dren in his own day. As I remember the things they 
wrote, his own daughters were not labored and repe- 
titious and slow, and they didn't lack for ideas and 
judgments and opinions. Nor do many of the young 
writers of today. I'd love it if Mark Twain could read 
the following message, written on a postcard by a six- 
year-old boy named Gregory Stock. Gregory was in 
England and his parents, who are from South Africa, 
were in Paris. This is what he wrote them in script and 
not Roman capitals: 

Dear Mummey and Dadey 

I tolled you not to put sumthing diffrent in the jar 
in the tadpols I tolled you to put onlie ror meat and 
bread see you do not listen to me abot tadpols you 
have killed them Love from Gregory Stock. 

And just in case the wraith of Sam Clemens wants 
further convincing, I have a short short short story 
written by Diane Cahill, aged eight, of Chicago, in 
which there is quite clearly an idea, and a judgment on 
the conduct of women, and an opinion about our civ- 
ilization, as follows: 

One day Dorthy Duck was swimming in the pond. 
And waddeling along the road was guess who? Dick 
Duck of coarse. He amed his eye on Dorthy. Hey chick 
he said how about you and me going swimming in my 
privet pool? Dorthy trying to egnore him coudn't help 
to think of a privet pool. So she said, what time? O 
about seven o'clock tonight. I'll be there said Dorthy. 
Strange but the ways of ducks are the same as the 
ways of people. 

Bryan Hamric, a sixth-grader in Dallas, got a B-plus 
on the following composition which was written as a 
school assignment and which has been reprinted in 
both the Dallas Morning News and Time: 


Spring is my favorite season of the year because we 
have spring vacation and right after spring vacation we 
have summer vacation. 

When spring comes the weather is much more 
pleasant and the teachers give us less homework. 

In spring lots of tornadoes come and everyone is 
hoping that one will come and destroy the school. And 
with the tornadoes comes rain and hail which might 
flood the city. Then not one person will have to go to 

Spring is my best season of the year. 

Marjorie Fleming may have been the bewitchingest 
speller of her historical period, but I have a candidate 
for honors in eccentric orthography, a boy who was 

[ "4 ] 

writing in the third grade of a Florida school about 
twenty years ago. His composition has been preserved 
through the years by his teacher, Mrs. Carl J. Smith, 
now of New Castle, Delaware, and she has forwarded 
it to me, advising me to peruse it carefully, for it is not 
written in a foreign language: 

Ones a lot of snanks cam apone a Afrcan vilja. The 
snanks went thu the huts. A fash runer was sent to get 
the other trfbs to help to them to get the snanks away. 
A big snank was up in a tree not very far away from the 
vilje in a tree the runer went under the tree the snank 
was. The big snank fell down on the runer and chocked 
him to deth. The pepole saw woat happen to the fash 
raner. Then one man came were the fash runer stan 
and said way not send the messgn to go by tump-tump. 
Then a trib a natives came and help trived way the 
snanks. But the vilja did not loke petter at all. 

(Now that I read it over again, and remember that 
it was written in Jacksonville, I think I may have fig- 
ured it out. It's Southern dialect, old-fashioned style.) 

Back in 1938 a nickel notebook arrived through the 
mail at the publishing house of Simon and Schuster. 
It was a novel, called Roaring Guns, and the author's 
name was David Statler. It had all the standard ingre- 
dients of the western story: a hero named Tom Mix, 

[ "5 ] 

a villain named Bill Jhonson, and a heroine named 
Nomra (possibly Nomra Talmadge?). Upon investiga- 
tion Mr. Statler turned out to be nine years old. Un- 
able to think of anything else to do, Simon and Schus- 
ter called him in, signed a contract with him, and 
published his book with his own illustrations. Chap- 
ter 6, which is titled "TROUBLE/' follows: 

At dawn Tom and all the rest of the ranch men were 
very busy. None of the other ranchs knew about the 
gold mine. Tom and the men did not want them to 
for fear they would try to rob them so they kept it a 
secret. Tom loaded his pistol, got a rifle, took a few 
clean shirts, a few neckerchiefs, and some food. Soon 
they were ready for actoin and adventure. They all had 
been in many narrow escapes but they had never been 
so dangerous. They knew that the Indians would make 
them trouble for they were not friendly. Here are the 
names of the men who were going. Tom Mix, Jack 
Woods, Bob Jhonson, Hoot Gibson, Jhon Kelly, the 
Boss. They knew the Indians would give them plenty 
of trouble. So they bought 95 boxes of bullets and 50 
rifles. The men who were not going guarded the ranch. 
Nomra was going too. Tom began to load the bundles 
into the wagons and then he talked to the boss about 
their plans. Suddenly there were shots in every corner 
and men tumbled in every direction. Evidently some- 
body had found out that they were going to the mine 
and they wanted to get there first. The ranch caught 
on fire and every man ran for his life shooting as they 

ran. Windows were splintering, doors were broken 
down and the roof, wall, and floor was burning. Sud- 
denly the roof fell in and closed down on the fight. A 
great storm came up and the wind tore at the roof 
where the fight was. The fire was burning holes in the 
roof and as some of them got out of the holes a wind 
knocked them down. Some of the men maneged to get 
out. Tom was with them but not for very long because 
he was lost after while and as he rode along sadly be- 
cause the adventure of the gold mine was broken up he 
heard a long pityios wale. Tom galloped in the di- 
rection and he saw a wire haired terrier puppy laying 
on the ground dripping wet and badly scared. Tom 
jumped off his horse and picked it up and took a 
clean handkerchief and dried him off. Suddenly he 
heard voices which were not white mans but Indians! 
Quickly he hid the puppy and took his horse a little 
distance off and took the harness and saddle off. Per- 
haps you wonder why he took the harness and saddle 
off. Well 111 tell you why he did this. He wanted the 
horse to look like a wild horse and of course wild horses 
don't have harness or saddles. Then he dropped down 
behind a clump of srubbery. He leveled his gun at one 
man and before you had time to move he was on the 
ground with a bad wound. The Chief spoke in ex- 
cited voice "Its the ghost indian me no like him they 
say he shoot Indians which are good. \Ve shoot too" I 
A rain of arrows embedded thier sharp points in trees 
or thickits of bushs and such undergrowth. Tom shot 
six Indians. He knew they were hostile and of course 
hostile Indians are not friendly. They took to thier 
heels as three more of there Indians fell. When the 

[ "7 ] 

Indians had gone Tom got up got the dog then mount- 
ing his pony he jogged along on his horse. He felt sad 
because he thoght about the ranch burned up and he 
wondered where the men he had been lost from were 
and about the gold mine adventure being found out 
and ruined. But he found it was no use worrying about 
it so he hunted the rest of the day trying to find them. 
Then he went to a hotel called 'New Western/ After 
he ate his dinner he went to sleep. He woke up that 
night and heard a noise. As I told you once before he 
slept with his clothes on. He hurried downstairs and 
went into a saloon across from the hotel. He saw a 
drunk man shooting off his guns. Some grim looking 
men watched him. Tom said to the man "Do you 
know its aginst the law to get that drunk here in 
Silver City" Suddenly the drunk man swung his gun 
to cover Tom. But Tom dived down and tackeled the 
drunk man and then they got in a death cluth. Tom 
felt his lungs giving away so he made one desprate jerk 
at the mans hands which were gripped on his neck but 
it was no use. Suddenly he gave a stinging blow on the 
chin on the other man. He loosened the grip then. 
Tom gave him another one. The man loosend it a little 
more then Tom with his last burst of strength he sent 
the man sprawling backwards. But the men who were 
watching whipped out their guns and sprayed the floor 
with bullets. Tom got one hand aloose from the other 
man and whipped out his gun and began to shoot. 
Some of the men ran to the door, some leaped into the 
fight, and some let loose smoke and powder. Suddenly 
the sheriff and some of his men came flying down the 
street. They leaped off their horses. They entered the 

saloon with their guns roaring with smoke and flame. 
The room was filled with the stinging odor of powder 
and the sheriff and his men and Tom were fighting 
desprately and surely that they were winning. One 
after another of the enimies fell blood spattered to the 
floor. Finally only one man faced Tom, the sheriff and 
his grim gang. He smashed his fist into one of thems 
faces and then jerked out his gun and shot a line of 
fire into the crowd of good men. He struggeled to get 
aloose and did it. Then he flew down the street. Tom 
and the sheriff and his men were after him. Tom was 
at his heels. But the man hit Tom with his mighty 
arm. Tom gave him a mighty hit on the jaw. The man 
jerked out his gun and shot at Tom. But Tom ducked 
it and let his gun rip into the mans side. The man fell 
dead. Then Tom went back to the hotel and as he 
opened the door into his room a pistol whissed at him 
and he saw in his room a gang of ruff bandits. There 
were ten of them. He whipped out his gun and fired 
six times as the bandits cracked their guns off. Then 
they rushed at Torn but a loud voice stopped them and 
Tom saw standing by the open door Tim Cody! Cody 
stepped out and swung his gun on the startled crowd 
of bandits. But suddenly a crowd of bandits who were 
in the gang of the captured men burst into the room. 
Some of them set the room on fire, others shot lead at 
the startled Tom and his partner Tim Cody. Others 
smashed windows and aimed their guns at some of 
sheriffs men who were gathered around the hotel. Tom 
leaped downstairs with a quick jerk his gun was out 
spitting lead. Smoke filled the streets, the shouts of 
men were drowned in the gun fire, in every store the 

[ "9 ] 

men of the sheriffs were dragging dead men out of their 
windows. Tom leaped into the saddle of his horse 
Silver and dashed down the road. Tom was on his 
horse with the bandits after him. Suddenly a milloin 
Indians rushed at him. The air was thick with arrows, 
and shots, yells and cries died out over the noise of 
hoofs, shots, and the clatter of knifes hitting against 
each other. But the sheriff and his men crashed into 
actoin and Indians and bandits let up a shout of war 
and rushed at them. Knifes, guns, axes, clubs, rifles 
went into actoin. Knifes were shattered into bits, guns 
were lost, axes were broken, rifles were slpiting into, 
and men were shouting. Tom jerked a rifle up to his 
shoulder and began shooting lead in every direction. 
Men fell to the ground with Toms bullets in their 
hearts. Tom suddenly saw a man with a 4-5 gun aiming 
at him over the head of the man went Toms rifle but a 
crowd of bandits rushed at him and knocked him 
down. Tom dug his feet into a bandit then he rushed 
at a crowd of Indians. The Indians let go a hail of 
arrows. Tom bumped into a great Indian who was the 
chief. He wore a long buck skin vest and a pair of 
beaded moccasoins. He had a sheild of bufflo bones 
his beld was armed with a knife a hatchet and a toma- 
hawk and in it he carried a bow with on it a pack of 
arrows. Now I must stop telling about clothes and 
weapons and go on with the story. The mighty Indian 
rushed at Tom and threw him down. Then he leaped 
on Tom and was in the act of stabbing Tom with his 
long murderois knife but Tim Cody leaped at the 
Indian and knocked him down. The Indian rushed at 
Cody with a blood-curdling yell. But Tim before you 

[ 120 ] 

could move whipped out his gun and fired. The chief 
fell dead, and Tim started to battle with the bandits 
but he was thrown down by a pack of howling Indians. 
Out went Tom's gun. But it was no use to fire for if 
he killed one the other pack which had surounded him 
would make him look like a pokepine by throwing 
spears into him. The Indians ran at Tom and Tim. 
Tom dodged a Indian and got away. But Tim rushed 
at an Indian and was thrown six feet in the air by the 
mighty Indian. Tom threw the Indian down and found 
him self piled on by other Indians. Suddenly a huge 
bandit leaped on the Indians threw them off then he 
picked up Tom and slung him to another man who 
drew knife and rushed down on Tom. But Tom leaped 
down to tackle him. The robber cracked Tom over the 
head with a gun. Tom was knocked out and the next 
thing that he saw that was he had been captured and 
he saw the sheriff sitting in a chair with a man stand- 
ing gaurd over him. The war with the good men, 
bandits, and Indians was over. How Tom wished Tim 
would burst into the room. Suddenly Tom's wish came 
true. Into the room came Tim and six other men. Tim 
and the men who were the sheriffs men shot at the 
robbers who leaped out the windows of the building. 
Down the bandits fell till they reached a rope which 
I do not know who was the one that put it there. But 
it was there. As luck would have it the bandits leaped 
on to the rope and walked across a ledge which was 
jutting out from the building. Then they quickly 
leaped to the ground and disapeared around a corner. 
Tom shot at the bandits and as one got half way 
around the corner he stopped and suddenly crumpled 

to the ground and lay dead. Tom had a exciting ad- 
venture that time. Now let us stop and rest before we 

Stop and rest! I'm going to bed! 

When children speak of their elders they often refer 
to them as "dulls" and the word sometimes carries 
over into their writing. A New York State mother gives 
us a sample of her son's prose in which he gets the 
word right, but misspells and misuses its relative, as 

Adults dont do anything. Adults just sit and talk 

and dont do a thing. Theres not anything duller in 

this world than adultry. 

Janies J. Foti of Huntsville, Alabama, is a collector 
of children's schoolroom scribblings, but he limits 
himself to fourth-graders. He has stuff written by 
fourth-graders in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, all the 
way to fourth-graders in an Air Force school in Eng- 
land. Among the items Mr. Foti has passed along to 
nie is this bitter complaint from a small pessimist: 


I am going to go swimming all summer long. Last 

[ 122 ] 

summer my brothers and I wont from nine O'clock to 
noon. Then we go from one O'clock to six O'clock. 
But my brothers and I get the dirty job. The dirty job 
is dishes. But then we get to go swimming for the rest 
of the day. Sometimes I don't come home at noon so 
I won't have to do the dishes But I get gyped. I have 
to do suppers dishes. I really say thats a gyped. Not 
every day I get gyped. Just the days that I stay swim- 
ming I get gyped. I don't like to get gyped. But some- 
times I don't care if I get gyped. Because sometimes 
they get gyped to. So I don't care if I get gyped with 
them. Because we will have to do the dishes anyway. 
So I don't care. 


That's a real nice way to spend a summer vacation. 
Getting gyped. Or not getting gyped. Or not even 

Mr. Foti also sends an essay which, I think, may 
offend the sensibilities of duck hunters: 


We had this dog. It was a he. He was so good that 
my dad went out in the fall when the duck shooting 
was good but he did not take a gun. He waited until 
the shooting was all done for the day. Then we went 
into the marsh and got his limit of ducks that the 
other pople wounded. 



The Olivia Raney Library is in Raleigh, North 
Carolina, and some time ago I had a communication 
from Clyde Smith, the librarian. Clyde Smith is a 
lady, and she sent along a manuscript found in a book 
in the children's department of the library. Miss 
Smith said that it carried no signature, yet it is the best 
book review she has ever read. Here it is: 


I have just finished reading "Kings and Queens" by 
Eleanor and Herbert Thornycrof t. 

One of the best stories was Henry VIII. He ruled in 
1509. He had a half a dozen queens. The first was Kate 
of Aragon. But he got a divorce and she went. Anne 
Boleyn was No. 2. The live awhile. And he chopped 
off her head. No. 3 was Jane Seymour. A year later she 
jumped in bed and died. No. 4 was Anne of Cleves. A 
year later a Royal divorce took place. No. 5 was Cather- 
ine Howards. They got mad and off went her head. No. 
6 was Catherine Parr. She was luckiest by far. This 
time Henry died. 

Among the poetic achievements of eight-year-old 
Alice Fuchs of Jamaica, New York, are the following 

If your father gets angry or very mad at you, 
He's just trying to make an excellent citicen of you. 

[ 124 ] 

Lincoln was born to his parents 

One very lucky day. 
He grew up very plainly, 

And had little time to play. 
He studied by the fire light 

To learn geography 
He was a very kind man 

And wouldn't hurt a flea. 

Children have a real appreciation of climax. They 
usually want to be present and voting when the de- 
nouement of a story arrives. Mrs. John R. Becker of 
Excelsior, Minnesota, provides us with an example. 
One summer day Mrs. Becker found herself assigned 
to the job of keeping five small children entertained, 
three of them being her own. She decided on a "round 
story." She would start off with the first sentence, then 
one of the children would provide the second sentence, 
and so on around the circle, thickening the plot. So 
Mrs. Becker began: "Once upon a time a very pretty 
little girl lived high up in the mountains." Mrs. Becker 
now pointed to one of the children, a little girl. The 
child thought for only a moment, then burst forth 
with: "She ran out in the road and was killed." 

"I think there's a special place reserved in Heaven 
for children's barbers and teachers," says a letter from 

Fairfield, Connecticut. It is from a teacher, and she 
tells of the frantic time she had with her class on 
Columbus Day. The children were put to work writing 
a play commemorating the voyages of Columbus. 
Their teacher almost reached the limits of her endur- 
ance when a skit was handed in bearing the title, 
"Columbus Circumcizes the World" (I imagine it 
struck her as being historically incorrect). 

John T. Winterich tells us of the time an author of 
children's books met one of his readers, an eight-year- 
old girl. She was obviously impressed, and asked in- 
credulously, "Did you really write that book yourself?" 
Modestly, he assured her that he had. "Did you really 
write it all yourself?" she persisted. "Yes," he said, "I 
really wrote it all myself." "Well," said the child, fix- 
ing him with a beady eye, "how'd you get the lines so 

I am reminded of this story time and again as I 
prowl through the manuscripts that have come my 
way. I have one before me now, a letter written by a 
boy in Altadena, California. The first line of the letter 
is fairly straight, the second line tilts a little, the third 
goes downhill at a greater angle, and so on so that 
when I try to read the whole thing I have to twirl it 
like a wheel. It is a newsy letter and says: 

" 126 

I've got a cold right now and it feels terrible I'm 
much better now. Alison Nelson Debby Juile and I 
have gotton some kool aid which is a drink and we 
have made some popsicales out of it. We are going to 
the beach Sundy. Twinkie the cat is pregnet again. The 
new people next door are going 2 move in the house 
the 21. 

Laurette Howars once published a collection of chil- 
dren's things including a marvelous essay: 


Smells are things to know about. When people do 
good things they smell sweet. When they do bad 
things, they do not smell sweet at all. Dogs know about 

An equally perceptive essay, written by a schoolgirl, 
was reprinted by the Boston Evening Transcript and 


We get our parents at so late an age that it is im- 
possible to change their habits. 

I have a niece whose father, a fowl-fancier and vege- 
table-grower, has to sometimes spend long periods in 
distant cities. The girl's mother has sent me a letter 
which I find noteworthy for several reasons, including 

[ 7 1 

its use of an expression I remember from the land of 
my nativity Little Egypt in Illinois. The expression 
is descriptive of a physical function which, in my 
travels, I find has many other names among children 
of other localities. I know a family of Connecticut 
children who refer to it as "Big Dooty." And I know 
some younger children who refer to it as "Dwunt." 
There are others a fine educational essay might be 
written on the subject. 

But let us get at my niece's letter: 

Dear Daddy, 

Since you say I never write you I am going to. I 
know it doesn't make much since but I don't care. 
Your darn ginnines got out and got into the corn. We 
have been getting thirty to thirty-six eggs a day. Andy, 
Ruth and I are going to the Ball Game Friday. Their 
are playing Cleveland now. I am listening now and a 
man got on first with 2 outs and the next man got a 
single a man on 3rd and ist the next guy walked and 
the next guy got out he hit the ball and and it went to 
i man he had to run way over and got it and then 
droped it picked it up threw got him out said the ump. 
and all the players ran out on Washingtons team. 
Then when Luke Easter got up he is on Cleavends side 
he walked and then the picther of Wash, therw a 
quick throw over to ist and got him out and a whole 
lot of people ran out but he was out. And Your Dum 
let them out twice a day. Mother and I Cleaned out 

[ 128 ] 

the basement and don't you drag all the stuff back 
either. I am playing football now and boy is it fun we 
are going to get lockers. 

Your Loving 
Jean Ann 

If you failed to recognize the Little Egypt expres- 
sion, it is what the dum goosess did all over the yard. 
And I might add that Jean Ann turned out in the end 
to be quite feminine; she is now a married lady, and 
pkys no more football 

Jane Turner of Hartford tells me that her stepfather, 
who came from a very proper and well-to-do family, 
was sent away on a country vacation when he was 
about five years old. The first letter he wrote home 
was this: 

Dear Mother: 

I love you very much please send me a coil of rope 

love Terrell 

xxxx oooo 

Mrs. Leah C. Grimes of Binghamton, New York, 
has forwarded a biographical essay written by her son 

when he was nine, which was a long time ago. The 


Long long ago when Columbus came, a few years 
before the World War Roosevelt went to Africa. He 
shot many kinds of anamails. He said it was very hot in 
that country. For a while he stade in Africa and when 
he came back, a year after he died. 

The son of one of the most prominent authors in 
the South has always been a lad of imagination, and 
an individualist when it comes to spelling. When he 
was about eleven he coined a beautiful word when he 
said, "She is the most superfishy girl in this town/ 7 
When he was five he had an attack of intestinal flu, 
and a nurse was engaged to attend him. The nurse 
overwhelmed him with numerous unwelcome enemas, 
and after a couple of days of this, a crude sign ap- 
peared on the boy's bedroom door. It said: 


Readers of Time sent in a number of juvenile stories 
and essays after the magazine reviewed Write Me a 
Poem, Baby. A teacher took her children to the Mu- 

[ 130 ] 

seum of Natural History and then asked each child 
to write a composition. One wrote: 

Today we went to a museum. I saw a dinosaur. The 
dinosaur is a animal what aint got BO meat on its 

And from Bombay came this essay, written by an 
eight-year-old girl: 

Once upon a time their lived a capten who loved 
food. His name was Bill. He married a woman called 
Ann. Who could cook very nicely, but he didn't love 
her. He only married her because she could cook. One 
day she died, but Bill dident mind until lunch time. 

Mrs. Nathalie P. Johnston of Buffalo remembers 
that when she was a youngster she was composing a 
historical essay, and she got so excited that she wrote: 

"Who's coming?" demanded the frightened officer. 
"The Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!" 
shouted Allen. 

I have saved one of the finest items for the end of 
this little book. It is a little essay written by a twelve- 
year-old girl in Perry County, Alabama. Helen Essary 
came into possession of it about twenty years ago, 
checked it for its authenticity, and then sent it to the 

Reader's Digest and they checked it, so it must be 
genuine. It was published in 1939 and follows: 


A person can never get True Greatness by trying for 
it. It is nice to have good clothes, it makes it a lot 
easier to act decent, but it's a sign of true greatness to 
act when U have not got them just as good as if U had. 

Once there was a woman who had done a big wash- 
ing & hung it on a line. The line broke and let it down 
in the mud, but she didn't say a word, only did it over 
again, & this time she spread it on the grass, where it 
could not fall 

But that night a dog with dirty feet ran over it. 
When she saw what was done she didn't cry a bit. All 
she said was: "Ain't it queer he didn't miss nothing." 
That was true greatness, but it is only people who have 
done washings that know it. 

Once there was a woman that lived near a pig-pen, 
& when the wind blew that way it was very smelly, & at 
first when she went there she could not smell anything 
but pig, but when she lived there a while, she learned 
to smell the clover blossoms thru it. That was true